SOUTH AFRICA: Unwritten

Unwritten

On my way to work this morning, the song “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield played on the radio. I’ve heard the song many times before. This morning, I really paid attention to the lyrics for the first time, and reflected upon my own goals.

Many of us feel trapped in the routine of our daily life. We’ve all said at some point that we don’t have enough time. I’ve been using this excuse for two important goals in my life: decluttering my home, and writing my novel. These are things that I know will make me feel happy and proud of having accomplished them. The truth is that none of us “have” time, we “make” time to do what we really want to do. So I must ask myself the question, “Why have I not made time for the two goals that I’d most like to accomplish?”

The clutter in my home is complicated, as much of it was inherited from my husband’s family. For that reason, I feel that my husband must make the decision regarding what to keep and what to sell. Of course, there is no excuse for me not to get rid of my own clutter!

I know that my almost pathological fear of giving things away stems from my childhood. My parents were terrible at managing our family finances, and in our house, it was feast or famine. When my parents had money, they’d literally buy champagne and caviar. When they had none, we had to make do with “mystery” tins (we had a box of tins without labels). I guess it’s the fear of being without that holds me back from doing what I should in this regard. The ultimate irony is that I usually can’t find what I need, when I need it, anyway!

This brings me to my unwritten novel, which I have dreamt of writing for as long as I can remember. A couple of years ago, I signed up to NaNoWriMo, and started to work on my goal in earnest. Then I was diagnosed with lupus and psoriasis – two severe autoimmune diseases that have since wrecked havoc on my life. I was unable to type due to numbness and pain in my arms and hands. Since then, I have abandoned my goal of writing my novel. While my health challenges are certainly a handicap, I suspect that the real obstacle isn’t lack of time or my health, it’s fear. As long as my novel remains unwritten, it can’t be rejected. I can hold on to my dream of being an author “one day”, whereas if I write it and it’s not good enough, I would have to give up on the dream.

You would think that, given the above insights, I’d be able to overcome my psychological hurdles and get on with it. I’m happy to be able to confirm that I’ve started taking baby steps in the right direction. I have given away two large bags full of clothes I no longer wear, and I’ve started writing for World Moms Network again.

To paraphrase Unwritten: each day we get a brand new chance to “begin our book.” No one else can do or say what we are meant to do and say. We’re all unique, and therefore uniquely qualified for whatever it is that we’re meant to accomplish in our lifetimes.

What goals do you have,  but “don’t have time” for? If you have already published a book, do you have any advice for us aspirant authors?

This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Mama Simona from Cape Town, South Africa.

Photo credit: Caleb Roenigk / Flickr.

Mamma Simona (South Africa)

Mamma Simona was born in Rome (Italy) but has lived in Cape Town (South Africa) since she was 8 years old. She studied French at school but says she’s forgotten most of it! She speaks Italian, English and Afrikaans. Even though Italian is the first language she learned, she considers English her "home" language as it's the language she's most comfortable in. She is happily married and the proud mother of 2 terrific teenagers! She also shares her home with 2 cats and 2 dogs ... all rescues. Mamma Simona has worked in such diverse fields as Childcare, Tourism, Library Services, Optometry, Sales and Admin! (With stints of SAHM in-between). She’s really looking forward to the day she can give up her current Admin job and devote herself entirely to blogging and (eventually) being a full-time grandmother!

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USA: The Life Story Behind My Latest Children’s Book

USA: The Life Story Behind My Latest Children’s Book

My 4th book (and 2nd children’s book) was out in the public in paperback this August. Now I finally have some time to sit down and write a few words about this brain child of mine. (more…)

To-Wen Tseng

Former TV reporter turned freelance journalist, children's book writer in wee hours, nursing mom by passion. To-wen blogs at I'd rather be breastfeeding. She can also be found on Twitter and Facebook.

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SOCIAL GOOD: The Story Behind Simple Giving

SOCIAL GOOD: The Story Behind Simple Giving

simplegivingcover1

In a little over four months, my book will be out in the public in paperback and electronic forms. It gives me chills to think about this fact.

It is a lifelong dream to publish a book, and I’m excited to accomplish this goal before I turn 40. (I’ll even have a few months to spare!) While I am a co-author in the book The Mother of All Meltdowns, this will be my first solo book. It will also be my first traditionally published book.

I honestly don’t remember when I initially came up with the idea for Simple Giving. Let’s just say it was a few years back. I know that I wanted to take what I was writing about philanthropy on my blog, another jennifer, and expand on it. I know I felt a constant pull to give more and to share all the stories I was finding through the Philanthropy Friday series on my blog in a bigger way. I know I found a community of world changers that spanned the globe who inspired me to push myself further.

I finally got the nerve to ask my then father-in-law and seasoned literary agent if he thought I should pursue my idea. He not only liked the idea, he offered to represent me.

You never know what will happen with your goals and dreams if you don’t pursue them.

It took me a long time to finish my proposal, never mind the actual writing of the book. When you work on something so close to you personally, fear can often rear its ugly head and get in the way of your progress. Other priorities – like work that actually pays, writing, parenting and attempting to have a social life – push the big scary stuff to the back burner. I wrote a post back in March of 2013 about fear and writing.

There were a couple of times that I just had to get away and write without distraction. I was fortunate enough to have my parents take my kids for days at a time so I could retreat from the world and immerse myself in my book. Those were the times I got the most research and organizations done, along with some much needed free writing.

And then I came to the realization that my marriage was ending. After one Sunday evening conversation, reality set in. I woke up the next morning feeling a shell-shocked. I remember getting my boys off to school and sitting down at the desk in my home office. I started the computer and stared at the screen wondering what I would do next. A million things were running through my head.

I opened my email and there, waiting for me in my inbox, was a draft contract from my publisher. I had known it would be coming for a few weeks, but the contracts department was backed up. It came at a time when I needed the reassurance that everything was going to be alright. Just a few weeks later I traveled to Nicaragua with WaterAid America. I was nervous about leaving my kids so soon after telling them that their father and I were separating, but that trip came at a time when I needed to get away and get back to basics.

While I can’t say that everything went as planned in the writing of this book, I can say that it all worked out for the best. Simple Giving is much better because of the extra time it took and the experiences I had along the way. In fact, the story that brings the entire book together is about a wonderful community I joined after divorce – that also happens to be my gym – that allowed me to bring my passion for global issues into an outdoor water-themed workout based on my experience in Nicaragua for World Water Day in Maine.

Maybe there was a plan after all.

Simple Giving is available for pre-sale on AmazonB&NBooks-A-Million and Indiebound.

This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Jennifer Iacovelli, of anotherjennifer and author of Simple Giving.

Is there a dream that you have but are afraid to pursue?

Jennifer Iacovelli

Jennifer Iacovelli is a writer, speaker and nonprofit professional. Based in Brunswick, Maine, she’s a proud single mom of two boys and one Siberian husky.  Jennifer is the author of the Another Jennifer blog and creator of the Simple Giving Lab. Jennifer is also a contributing author of the book The Mother Of All Meltdowns. Her work has been featured on GOODBlogHerUSAID ImpactFeed the Future and the PSI Impact blog. Her latest book, Simple Giving: Easy Ways to Give Every Day, is available everywhere. Her passions are writing, philanthropy, her awesome kids and bacon, though not necessarily in that order.

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WASHINGTON, USA: Writing a Letter in the Age of Tweets

WASHINGTON, USA: Writing a Letter in the Age of Tweets

pen & paper

I currently have someone in my life with whom I can only contact via letters. I am talking about snail mail, meaning hand writing or typing a cohesive self-narrative, putting a stamp on it, and sending it out into the world via the U.S. Postal Service. While this may not sound earth shattering, I’ve experienced a cognitive re-awakening. Living so fully immersed in the world of social media, texting, and email, I forgot what it was like to truly engage in traditional correspondence. (more…)

Tara B. (USA)

Tara is a native Pennsylvanian who moved to the Seattle area in 1998 (sight unseen) with her husband to start their grand life adventure together. Despite the difficult fact that their family is a plane ride away, the couple fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and have put down roots. They have 2 super charged little boys and recently moved out of the Seattle suburbs further east into the country, trading in a Starbucks on every corner for coyotes in the backyard. Tara loves the outdoors (hiking, biking, camping). And, when her family isn't out in nature, they are hunkered down at home with friends, sharing a meal, playing games, and generally having fun. She loves being a stay-at-home mom and sharing her experiences on World Moms Blog!

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SOUTH AFRICA: Interview with Karien Potgieter of Running the Race

SOUTH AFRICA: Interview with Karien Potgieter of Running the Race

Karein PotgieterWhere in the world do you live? And, are you from there?

I live in Kimberley, the diamond capital of South Africa.  Kimberley is a smallish, dusty town that gets extremely hot in summer – living here sometimes requires a good sense of humour, ha!  I was born and raised just a short distance from here – in Bloemfontein in Central South Africa.

What language(s) do you speak?

Our home language is Afrikaans, but I’m fluent in English as well.  South Africa has 11 official languages, plus a number of unofficial ones, so I’m really far behind as far as that goes!

When did you first become a mother?

I was blessed with a beautiful, peaceful little girl at the beginning of 2012 at the age of 34.  My son, a busy, happy little guy, was born 22 months later at the end of 2013.  It’s been an overwhelming, busy and blessed two-and-a-half years – what an amazing adventure!

Is your work: stay-at-home mom, other work at home or do you work outside the home?

I’m in the very privileged position to work from home as an ecologist.  I feel extremely blessed to be able to be here for my kids all day (we have a nanny who looks after them while I work) and be able to do a job that I love.

Why do you blog/write?

Writing is my passion – I love, love, love it!  Combining writing with my other passions, namely my kids, running and healthy living, is pure bliss.

How would you say that you are different from other mothers?

I’m quite a health nut!  At the age of two-and-a-half my daughter has never seen or tasted something like a soda and very rarely eats junk food – we just don’t keep it in our house.  She and her brother both love fruits and veggies – perhaps because it’s all they know?  I also love running with both kids in our double jogging stroller – it’s one of our favourite things to do!

What do you view as the challenges of raising a child in today’s world?

There are so many!  Keeping them safe in a country known for its high crime rate; teaching them to value and accept themselves in a society where pressure is immense to be and look a certain way; teaching them to respect others in a world where respect for others is on the decline; teaching them to be active and take care of their bodies in a world where technology makes everything so easy…  The list goes on and on.  Only by grace!

How did you find World Moms Blog?

I love reading about other mothers’ experiences on this crazy adventure called motherhood.  An online search led me to World Moms Blogs, where I’ve found so many inspirational stories about moms from all over the globe – I love it!

This is an original, interview post for World Moms Blog from our new writer in South Africa and mum of 2, Karien Potgieter. You can read more about Karien’s running adventures through life at her personal blog: Running the Race

Karien Potgieter

Karien Potgieter is a full-time working mom of two toddlers. She has a master’s degree in ecology and works in the conservation sector in beautiful South Africa. Her other big passion, apart from her family and caring for the environment, is running. To date she’s participated in races on three continents and in six countries and she dreams of travelling to and running in many, many more. You can follow her and her family’s running adventures on her blog, Running the Race (http://www.runningtherace.co.za).

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AUSTRALIA:  Interview with Michelle Lewsen of They Call Me Mummy

AUSTRALIA: Interview with Michelle Lewsen of They Call Me Mummy

LewsenWhere in the world do you live? And, are you from there?

Asking me where I am from is never going to get you a short answer. I was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa where I had the most idyllic of childhoods. South Africa is a magical place with a breathtaking natural landscape to rival anywhere in the world. It’s also a place full of the most vibrant, colourful people who will welcome visitors with a wide grin and open arms.

It was there that I learnt about tolerance, diversity and how to love fellow members of the human race. Nelson Mandela called South Africans the Rainbow Nation and the world thinks this is because of the country’s diversity of race. For me, it goes deeper – this Rainbow Nation refers to a culture of people with vibrantly coloured hearts.

As you can imagine, it was with great sadness that I left South Africa in my twenties and migrated to Western Australia. In the fifteen years that I’ve lived here, I have learned that Australia is not terribly different from South Africa. Here, too, you will be welcomed with a grin, a cold beer and the notion that “it’ll be right, mate!”

I count myself as one who is truly blessed to have lived two lives in such beautiful places. So here I am, Michelle Lewsen, a South African Australian. Pleased to meet you!

What language(s) do you speak?

Amazingly, even though I was raised and schooled in a country that has eleven official languages, I speak only English with any fluency. I can speak a little Zulu, a little Sotho and a little Afrikaans but not enough – it’s one of my regrets.

When did you first become a mother?

I became a mother eleven years ago and have three children who fascinate me daily with their individual idiosyncrasies, their wit and the fact that these beautiful little human beings somehow are mine.

Are you a stay-at-home mom or do you work?

I am beyond fortunate to be able to be a stay at home Mum, which works perfectly with my writing.

Why do you blog/write?

Conversely, my writing is what keeps me from going stir-crazy at home! Nobody tells you just how lonely a house full of children can feel and I am so grateful for the amazing people I’ve met through blogging and writing – people who began as Twitter handles and Facebook statuses and have become some of my dearest friends.

My writing is not only for my own  sanity, but because I believe I have something to offer the world. I find it  incredibly rewarding to wake up in the morning and read comments on my blog that say I’ve helped someone else through their tough day. I write because I can’t not write. Simple as that.

How would you say that you are different from other mothers?

I am a Mum, just like every other Mum out there. We all love our children, we all scream and lose the plot sometimes, we all struggle through the  laughter and tears and tantrums and achievements and disappointments and fears and joys. I am no different.

What do you view as the challenges of raising a child in today’s world?

This world we are raising our kids in is a scarier place, for sure. The internet brings new friends but it also carries the risk of inviting some not-so-nice people into our children’s lives. The internet is the single greatest gift our generation has given our children’s generation and it is also the  greatest curse. My biggest fear as a mother, absolutely, is the idea of my children being hurt. But then, I’m no different from you, am I?

How did you find World Moms Blog?

How did I find World Moms Blog? In July 2013, I was honoured as a Voice of the Year at BlogHer ’13 and I traveled to Chicago for the conference. In a pre-conference session, Jennifer Burden stood up and introduced herself and World Moms Blog and asked a question. She was so eloquent
and so interesting, I had to hunt her down and introduce myself. World Moms Blog fascinated me because of this belief I have that no matter where we are from, a Mum is a Mom is a Mama is an Imma is a Mother. We are all the same.

Thank you for inviting me to be a part of this incredibly talented community of writers. I am honoured and look forward to getting to know you all.