Un-block Challenges

A Lesson on Listening – A Short Story

“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.”

– Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Suzie was preparing to type on her laptop. The library didn’t open for another hour so she’d made peace with bunking down at the local Wetherspoons to get some writing done before heading over there. She had deadlines and was easily distracted at home. Here she could click away get unlimited cups of tea and there was wifi should she need it. It wasn’t the best, but it would do. Cuppa ready, books out, she began to type.

“Roy that is so outrageous!” Came a rather loud woman’s voice entered through the venue door. Followed by one of those too-loud laughs.

“I’m telling you the truth, Maisie.” The man followed behind her declaring.

“Ooh what a scandal”. Maisie cackled again and Suzie felt her fingernails dig into her hand.

“Oh look. Let’s sit over here, it’s nice and quiet and plenty of room for when the others arrive.” Suzie quickly looked up to see Maisie wafting her hand in Suzie’s general direction. Lord NO, please don’t sit here, please don’t sit here. Now Maisie couldn’t take her eyes off them.

“Sure” Roy shrugged and within seconds they were sitting at the next table.

“So, she met George in prison?” Maisie’s loud voice questioned. What? Suzie had to admit she was intrigued.

“Well, sort of. She was attending with the church, support and all that kind of stuff, and soon they got talking. Then one thing led to another.”

Ignore them, Suzie. You are here to get work done. Take a swig of tea and get on with it.

“And now Ethel’s missing?”

Gulp! Friggin hell. It’s a murder.

“Yup that’s what I’ve been told. Police have been called and all that but apparently there’s no trace.”

Suzie hadn’t realised it but she was now instinctively leaning closer to the neighbouring booth.  The doors to the Pub opened again and a rather handsome gentleman entered. Suzie sat back straight but in doing so knocked some of her papers to the floor. The gentlemen quickly walked over and bent down to help pick them up.  

“Thanks,” Suzie said and blushed a little.

“Oh George, there you are!” Maisie’s screeching voice came out.

“Hi Maisie,” Mr Handsome, clearly George answered. Then winked at Suzie handing her the last of her papers. Taking them off him. Suzie nodded then began to hastily push everything as fast as she could into her bag. She couldn’t be sitting on the next table from a killer, and what was that wink all about? Crap, she’d be next. She tried to quickly put her coat on then realised she had it inside out. Frick. Starting over she got it on and then the zip wouldn’t go up. What was wrong with her?

George seemed to take the hint and made his way to the booth with Maisie and Roy.

“Oh so sad, we heard all about Ethel.” Maisie’s voice penetrated the air once more.

Things packed Suzie made her way to the door. One quick glance back just to memorise George’s looks in case she needed it for a police fit later.

“Yeah, that damn cat has caused no end of heartache for Lynn. It’s back now though. All’s well that end’s well I suppose.” George said.

Suzie stepped out the door and made her way to the library steps to spend the next twenty minutes out in the cold waiting. That’ll teach me.


Listen with Curiosity. Speak with Honesty. Act with Integrity. Image by KL Caley

Originally written in response to

  • Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge (#WQWWC) – Communication
  • FOWC with Fandango –

Take Care.
KL

In order to rise from its own ashes a phoenix first must burn Quote. - Octavia Butler
Un-block Challenges

Walking Through The Flames

“In order to rise
From its own ashes
A phoenix
First
Must
Burn.”

– Octavia Butler, Parable of the Talents

Left Foot

Right Foot

One step

After another

Ever forward

Even though it often felt she was still

Or going backwards

Yet she never repeated

Life was for learning

Sometimes the pain felt unbearable

Yet through the flames

She could see just a glimpse

Of the life she wanted

Step

Step

Step.


In order to rise from its own ashes a phoenix first must burn Quote. - Octavia Butler
In order to rise from its own ashes, a phoenix first must burn Quote. – Octavia Butler

I was going to write a long-winded post here about how whilst going through one of the most difficult times in my life one of my closest and oldest friendships came to an end. Yet, just 12 months on from that I had made a new group of friends to who I am very grateful. However, the post ended up reading like a sob story with me prattling on endlessly, so I have removed it. I am sure everyone has their moment in the flames, and I truly hope (although you might not see it at that moment in time), bigger and better things await you in the future, that one day you will look back on and be thankful for.

Originally written in response to

  • Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge (#WQWWC) – Order
  • FOWC with Fandango – Prattle.

Take Care.
KL

“A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.” - Marilyn Monroe
Un-block Challenges

Career or Cuddles?

“A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.”

Marilyn Monroe

The sunlight was fading.

She loved this hour.

Not quite day and not quite night.

When the world seemed to quieten to settle.

This was her hour with her passion.

She’d nurture each moment.

Correct what needed to be corrected.

Cherish each statement.

Be swept up and pulled into this addictive trance.

Her heart beating wildly as everything seemed to fall into place just right…

“Love, dinner’s ready.” A voice called from downstairs.

“Okay, I’ll just finish this sentence”, she called back.

After a few quick clicks of the keyboard, she stepped away from the pc. The twinkling light tempting her.

“We’ll conquer that next chapter tomorrow”.


“A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.” - Marilyn Monroe
“A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.” – Marilyn Monroe

I love this quote but I think in this day and age it’s possible to have both. When I first started my current job over ten years ago, I truly loved it. I was never interviewed, instead I met one of the managers for an informal chat and walk around the workshop and office. I was offered a job the next day. I was so impressed by him. He was so passionate about his job and what he wanted to achieve for the business, it exuded from him and it was so difficult not to get swept up by that. He became not only my manager but a firm friend and I am so grateful for that. He taught me so much but primarily how to love your job.

He moved onto another business around two years after I started and whilst I have worked with some truly fantastic people since he will always have a special place in my heart.

Not a career (yet) but ultimately writing is my passion. Like many, finding dedicated time to do it is difficult and I have to squeeze the odd hour in here or there but still, I love it. I have a very understanding OH who lets me witter away about whatever chapter, character or blog post I’m working on. When we go on days out and I stop suddenly to take a photo, he knows that it’s likely for a #writephoto post. I may seem an ingrate when I am distracted by whatever writing activity is consuming me at the time but I truly adore that he inspires and encourages me and my writing. For that, I am forever grateful to him.

Originally written in response to

Take Care.

KL

Un-block Challenges

Seeing the world differently – the book effect

When I am really into a novel, I’m seeing the world differently during that time – not just for the hour or so in the day when I get to read. I’m actually walking around in a bit of a haze, spellbound by the book and looking at everything through a different prism.

Colin Firth

Well, I’ll admit I have been looking for an excuse to use this quote for a while. Who doesn’t want an excuse to have Colin Firth appear in their post – haha? The ultimate Mr Darcy in my humble opinion. Mixed with the intensity of being absorbed by a book – heaven. I’ve gone off track a little….

The Intensity of Reading a Good Book – Quote by Colin Firth

Anyway, whilst the above quote is banded about the internet quite a bit (why not, it’s a great quote promoting books) the follow-up quote is often forgotten or missed entirely, yet for me, it is actually far more interesting.

I’m paraphrasing terribly from a theory I came across years ago, but there was this idea that everyone leads a kind of secret life. All of these things are going on around us that we don’t process consciously but that stay with us. There’s a school of thought that inanimate objects can make you feel certain things and you don’t know why. You pick up a green mug and you drink coffee out of it and you’re not thinking about anything except whether the coffee is good or bad. About an hour later, you feel depressed and you don’t know why. Perhaps the mug is exactly the same color as your grandmother’s. You’re aware of the emotion but you didn’t know your subconscious went through a whole thing—remembered something, relived something, and fed it back to you.
So a book can pull out responses that would be dormant otherwise. I find that a very valuable thing to have as a possibility. I’m not simply responding to the author’s vision. The joy I take from a book is mine. It comes from me.

Colin Firth

What an amazing intriguing theory and I have been thinking about it all day (no not Colin, his quote, honest). I have favourite mugs, despite a cupboard full of beautiful cups, I do have a couple that are favourites for no particular reason.

Stepping away from mugs for the moment and going back to books, there are certainly books that I have read recently that have entranced me and left me questioning things afterwards. For example, I recently read Anti-social by Nick Pettigrew, which certainly increased my sympathy for those suffering from mental health and poverty and increased my awareness of those who supported them.

Only a few days after reading this book, I found myself in A&E for a seven hour-plus wait. In the waiting room appeared an elderly gentleman and a younger woman. Initially, they drew little attention, however after an hour or two the woman appeared frantic, guards were called, the police arrived. The man had disappeared, it turned out he had run off as he didn’t want his bloods taken. The young woman (who most would probably assume was a daughter) was in fact a caseworker assigned to him. Not only was she terrified that he had run off, she was also aware she would at some point be finishing her shift and wanted to know he was settled and okay before leaving. Upon the police finding the man and returning him, he wasn’t particularly helpful to the nurses, and continued to go to the male toilets repeatedly every 15 minutes, often staying in for large amounts of time, for no other reason than he knew she couldn’t go in there. I’m not saying without this book I wouldn’t have been sympathetic to the pair, but the book certainly increased my understanding of just how difficult a job that woman had to do and how lucky that man was she was there and genuinely seemed to care for him, I imagine with many others he would just be a case on a spreadsheet waiting to be closed off.

Mental health will always be a challenge, but I do think books like this that touch us, inspire us and live with us long after reading can really help remind us of our human capacity to care for others.  I truly hope the right people at the right levels of society can also read and be inspired by such books and influence a better brighter future.

What about you? Have you read any books lately that have completely absorbed you? If so, I’d love to hear about them.


Originally written in response to Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge (#WQWWC) hosted by Marsha Ingrao at Always Right.

Take Care.

KL

Un-block Challenges

Who will you discover? – A Poem.

I was pleased to meet Einstein and learn of his story
He started as a patents clerk, before finding his glory
He published his General Theory of Relativity
But it took a solar eclipse to remove the science communities negativity,

Next I found Curie, and her life’s situation
Poland limited females, with no access to higher education
Yet still she triumphed, graduating top of her class
Winning Two Nobel Prizes, Oh what a lass!

Then I met Tesla, what an interesting chap
Arrived in New York with just the clothes on his back
An alternating motor was his brilliant design
Despite Edison’s attempt to thwart this brilliant mind.

Benjamin Franklin ran away at just seventeen
With no formal education or financial means
His genius for business soon made him rich
Yet his passion for fellow man is what made him tick!

So how did I find all these geniuses indeed?
I went to the library and started to read.
Here you have access to the world’s greatest minds
Best of all, it won’t cost you a dime!


‘I hear people saying that football or rock ‘n’ roll is the escape for the working class. I was always thinking, ‘No, it’s not – the library is the escape.’ That’s where the tunnel is. You’ve access to the great brains of the world and it’s free.

– Sir Billy Connolly

Originally written in response to Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge (#WQWWC) hosted by Marsha Ingrao at Always Right.


Education can be one of life’s greatest gifts. Yet, we all learn by different ways and means and a standard exam cannot capture one’s intelligence, drive or brilliance. In fact, hands-on training can often be much more meaningful to an employer. I think there is a place for both in society. Equally, I love a success story, especially from an underdog and history has so many wonderful examples.

Take Care.

KL

Un-block Challenges

The Loneliness of a Wild Lake – A short story.

She stared out across the water. Her mind lapping like the waves on the edge of the lake. Repeating her story to herself, but adding another line each time. Her life had changed, her plans gone awry, was there signals she missed? Probably. She had wanted the cliché. The house, the husband, the dog and the kids. She fought with everything she could, sometimes risking that which she hadn’t meant to. She had almost got it all. Almost.

The dog was an easy win, who doesn’t love dogs? Convincing him of the house move trickier but manageable. Some thought her husband meek but he could be stubborn when he wanted to. The wedding was a much harder challenge but eventually, she got there. Finally, she was ready for the children to come along.

Yet… as more and more time went in, the dreamed of pregnancy just didn’t happen. Cracks in her perfectly laid plans began to appear elsewhere. Strains that had been glossed over now bowed under pressure. Eventually, the talk was had. The perfectly planned life unravelled. One got the dog, the other the house. The title of husband and wife was vandalised with the “EX-“ prefix. So here she was, alone, in front of the wild lake.

Yet, life gave lessons, not curses. The wild lake representing what she needed, giving her time to cleanse, revive and refresh her life. Time to make some new plans…

“So lovely was the loneliness of a wild lake.”

Edgar Allan Poe

Originally written in response to Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge (#WQWWC) and FOWC with Fandango — Meek.

“As exciting, difficult and memorable as our past can be, there comes a time when we have to get on with living.”

Patrick Carman, The Tenth City

I realise this is quite a melancholic post this week. I have someone on my mind. Someone I used to know well but life presented some challenges, as life often does, and now they are no longer part of my life. Even though that is the case, I still wish them luck and happiness on their quest. Water after all is the best symbol for refreshment there is.

Take Care.

KL

Un-block Challenges

The Next Step – A short story.

He stared down at the newspaper. He really should call the newsagent and cancel the delivery but so far the thought of one more person apologising for his loss was too much. Better to just let it be, it was only a paper. Making his way to the kitchen he popped the kettle on then opened the fridge door. Row upon row of milk bottles lay unopened. He really should call and half the delivery. He paused. On second thought, a cuppa out would be a nice treat.

He grabbed his jacket and swapped his well-worn slippers for a pair of dress shoes. He wasn’t sure if they went with what he was wearing, Judy would have told him that, he shooed the thought from his mind. It didn’t matter, he had no one to impress anyway.

He walked down the street, hands in his pockets, keeping his head down, terrified a neighbour would stop him and offer more condolences. He knew they were trying to be kind but right now more condolences felt like the last thing he needed. He kept his head down and kept walking.

He stopped outside the café and looked in the window. Should he go in? His mind flashed back to sitting inside, waiting whilst Judy had her hair cut, after what felt like hours she’d appear. What do you think? She’d say with a huge smile. “Beautiful Darling”, he’d say, never really noticing the difference but her smile was all that mattered and that was truly beautiful. He turned to leave, he couldn’t go in there, not yet.

Across the road was a new café. It looked too trendy, one of these barista type affairs. Not a proper café. Still, he’d made it out the house, made it this far, maybe he should go in. No, I’m not young enough he thought, imagining the hipster type with their skinny jeans frowning at his questionable attire. But as he stood and watched a woman walked to the door and stepped inside, as she did, her scarf blew in the wind, causing her to drop her handbag, contents spilling across the pavement. Without even thinking, he crossed the road and knelt to help her. He picked up the pages of her newspaper and tried to sort them into some kind of order.

“Don’t worry about that, I’m not really a newspaper girl anyway, more of a book fanatic”, she said then gave him a beaming smile.

“Me too”, he said then chuckled. He handed her the scrunched newspaper and turned to leave.

“What kind of books are you into?” she asked.

“Oh, a bit of everything.”

“Ever read Fahrenheit 451?”

“Of course, a few years ago now, but it’s a book that sticks with you?”

“Great.” She beamed her smile at him again. “I am meeting my book group over by the window, why don’t you join us? This month’s book was Fahrenheit 451.”

“Erm…”

“We’re a friendly bunch, besides I think I owe you a cuppa for helping me but I’d feel bad holding the group up any longer.” That inviting smile came out again. He looked up and down the street. He had nowhere else to be.

“Sure. Why not?” He said. Together they stepped through the door. Despite the nerves, he felt excitement, a new chapter was about to begin, it only took one small step.

“As exciting, difficult and memorable as our past can be, there comes a time when we have to get on with living.”

Patrick Carman Quote

Originally written in response to Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge (#WQWWC) hosted by Marsha Ingrao at Always Right.

“As exciting, difficult and memorable as our past can be, there comes a time when we have to get on with living.”

Patrick Carman, The Tenth City

Change is often both terrifying and exciting whether that be a new house, a new job or even just a new chapter in life. I’m always curious about how people come to the decision to make that change, I find it’s often one small moment that causes them to take that leap of faith. Hope you enjoyed my tale capturing that moment.

I’m hoping to create a local book group to share my love of all things book related. I attended one years ago, it was at a local arts centre which sadly lost funding and closed. The group tried to keep going but the right venue was never available, pubs were too noisy, or had awkward seating or couldn’t reserve tables, the local bookshop and library both close at 6pm so were unusable and we couldn’t guarantee the numbers to hire a dedicated space, so it fizzled out. I am hoping to start a new one, hopefully with fresh eyes and excitement after (reportedly) more and more renewed their love of reading in lockdown. Wish me luck.

Take Care.

KL

Un-block Challenges

Annndd…. Relax!

After a year of covid, you would think the last place anyone would want to be is at home. Yet, it is still the place I feel most calm, possibly the craziest too but definitely the calmest. Reading is my ultimate relaxation; my calm, my quiet, my happy place.

Ah! There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort. – Jane Austen

I recently sorted my to-read pile out. I went for the Instagram colourful trend. I initially started sorting alphabetically by author (of course) and even flaunted with by size but ultimately the colour option is a very beautiful way to display books, despite it going against the laws of librarianism – haha. I don’t often re-read fiction books, I tend to pass them on to friends or family members who I think will enjoy them or I donate them to charity, with the exception of a few.

My (mostly) to-read shelves.

With the kindle, I have a collection of books I cannot display, this makes it practically impossible to keep on top of my to-read pile. It’s also a secret cluster of hoarding that no one but me knows about. Over the last few years, I have actually shied away from reading my kindle for a few reasons. Primarily, my child, I don’t want him to associate me sitting on a tablet-like device as an okay way to spend large amounts of time, I would rather he see me do this with a physical book. I know this probably sounds insane and it is exactly the same hobby but I’m a bit nervous about children’s obsession with such tech and think having actual books around makes it easier for children to see and understand. There has also been quite a number of papers on this, notably; “Scholarly Culture: How Books in Adolescence Enhance Adult Literacy, Numeracy and Technology Skills in 31 Societies” and also, “Family scholarly culture and educational success: Books and schooling in 27 nations”. Of course, my child has their own bookshelf too (two actually). Of all the things he could inherit from me, I really hope a love of books is one of them.

 Do you still own physical books in this tech-savvy age? If so, do you have a certain way you prefer them organised?

Take Care.

KL.


Originally written in response to Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge (#WQWWC) hosted by Marsha Ingrao at Always Right.

Un-block Challenges

Exploration

The car is packed
I’m ready to go
To explore new places
I don’t yet know

The Dalai Lama
Gives the best advice
To be honest,
I don’t need telling twice

The time has come
I can’t ignore
I need to go someplace
I’ve never been before

When I return
Back to my home
I’ll have so many new stories
To call my own


Originally written in response to Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge (#WQWWC) now hosted by Marsha Ingrao at Always Right.

“Once a year go some place you’ve never been before”

― dalai lama

I love to explore and go on adventures. I follow the Dalai Lama’s advice and try at least once a year to go somewhere I’ve never been (with the exception of last year and lockdown). I adore history so any form of historical or cultural aspect makes something so much more intriguing to me. In the 13 years my husband and I have been together we have never had a relaxing sunbathing type holiday, they are always jam-packed with activities. I normally create a list before we go of places we would potentially like to visit, then when on location I tend to chat to the locals to find out where they would recommend, this has almost always resulted in some amazing discoveries.

On a holiday in Scotland, after some advice from the family-run guest house, we ended up finding a beach only the locals use, it was actually past a golf course and looked like it was private but it wasn’t, only the golf course access was. The views were stunning, and it had everything, rockpools, a shingly pebble-y bit, a sandy bay, sand dunes and despite the fantastic weather, we had it completely to ourselves. Our two nieces who were on vacation with us told us it was the best holiday they had ever had.

On another occasion in Malta, after chatting for a while to a bus driver, he told us of a small town that was holding a religious festival. We had paid for bus passes for the week so to get there was free, after a few minutes of discussion we thought why not and honestly, it was brilliant. There was a huge parade with people singing and dancing, dressed up, waving banners. The crowds and the atmosphere was great (and it had yummy food for sale too – always a plus for me).

So, if you want to get a little more out of a trip, speak to a local. I always try to learn the words hello, please, thank you, goodbye and toilet in the local language before I go but other than that there is normally someone who speaks your language who is willing to have a chat and make recommendations.

Have you ever had a brilliant local recommendation whilst travelling?

Much Love
KL

Writing Extracts

The Writer’s Conflict – Clash of the Quotes

The inspiration just won’t come
Surely I’m not the only one
Let’s turn to the greats for advice
There I should find something nice

A classic quote from Mr Thoreau
An essayist, poet and philosopher too
A Harvard College education
Plus much more I haven’t mentioned

So what’s his advice for me to do
“Write while the heat is in you”
My heat has cooled down indeed
Perhaps a break is what I need

But wait, a new quote, from Stephen King
A writer indeed above all things
His books are a favourite, his advice is a must
He is certainly a voice I would trust

So what’s his advice for me to do
I guess it’s something I already knew
“Just get up and go to work”
Get on with it, I think with a smirk

Fingers to keyboard I begin to type
The classic or conventional which is right
This is my creation, I’ll let you judge
But it was the King that provided me that nudge.

Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with. Henry David Thoreau
Quote – Henry David Thoreau
Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work. Stephen King
Quote – Stephen King

Originally written in response to Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge (#WQWWC) now hosted by Marsha Ingrao at Always Right.

I often feel the devil and angel on my shoulders when it comes to writing. I have so many ideas but when I find decent time to write, they seem to escape me, I think that’s why I would lean towards Stephen King’s advice. Which quote do you feel more connected with?

KL