The Story of the Pencil…

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The book Like The Flowing River from author Paulo Coelho is one of my favourite reads. It is an intimate collection of Paulo Coelho reflections and short stories written from 1998 to 2005.

One that stood out to me is The Story of the Pencil. It is a story of a grandmother telling her grandchild that when he grows up, she hopes that he is more like a pencil.

At first I thought be more like a WHAT and then I read further…

The Pencil has 5 Qualities:

1. You are capable of great things, but you must never forget that there is a hand guiding your steps. Isn’t that so true, whether you call that hand God, the Universe, Guardian Angel or Buddha that hand is there guiding you, reminding you that in this big world you are not alone. That there is someone or something walking this path with you. Never doubt that.

2. Now and then I must stop writing and use a sharpener that makes the pencil suffer a little, but afterwards it is much sharper. So you to must learn to bear certain pains and sorrows because they will make you a better person. I have found that during times when you are sharpened to ask what can be good about this, how can I use this to better not only me, but others too? I usually walk away from the situation not only sharper, but stronger too.

3. The pencil always allows us to use an eraser to rub out mistakes this means correcting something we did is not necessarily a bad thing; it helps to keep us on the road to justice. I believe it gives us a second chance to re- evaluate, to do things differently the next time around.

4. What really matters to the pencil is not the wooden exterior but the graphite inside. So always pay attention to what is happening inside you. They say to look outside is to dream, but to look inside is to awaken.

5. It always leaves a mark you should know that everything you do in life leave a mark so try to be conscious of that in your every action

Paulo

Using a pencil is a great way to teach these 5 amazing qualities not only to children, but to adults too. Now when I use a pencil I can’t help but to reflect on the words of Paulo Coelho.

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Before you give Barney the boot…

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 Now I know that there are a lot of parents that will disagree with me on this one, but I love Barney. No I am not talking about Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother, although I do love him too, he is so legendary. But this time I am talking about the purple dinosaur that sauntered into my life when Leah was about a year old. Now you need to know that before Leah was born her father insisted that his child will never watch Barney. But in life there are certain things that you have no control over.

I will never forget the first time Leah saw Barney on TV. It was like pressing a pause button. She didn’t move, she just sat and stared. It was as if she was transported to another world.

The first thing I realized is that Barney is like magic. Barney gave me 20 minutes I could quickly do something else and almost give it my full attention. So Barney gave me time to edit a story, write a quick draft, do the dishes or start supper.

Then when I wasn’t running around and shouting Yay! time for me I would sit down and watch it with her. The earlier seasons are our favourite, but you will find each episode to be educational and entertaining. They sing, they dance, they play, they are encouraged to use their imagination and we know what Albert Einstein said about imagination: “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”

Barney has aided Leah to learn nursery rhymes, stories, numbers, shapes, the alphabet, colours and that just to name a few.

And I know that there are other shows that is just as amazing like Dora the Explorer and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, but in our household it was Barney and friends

Leah’s father has been converted and watches Barney with her now. It made me realize that we have preconceived ideas or beliefs about something or someone, but sometimes we have to break through it and give that something or someone a chance. We should create our own perception based on our own experience and not one created by others.

In my book Birdie Learns to Fly – Birdie perceives humans and four legged animals as bad, but it is a human and her four legged friends that aid him in his time of need.

Like Birdie you might find yourself pleasantly surprised, maybe even enlightened.

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Birdie Learns to Fly is available at Barnes and Noble (Nook), Kobo and Smashwords (Epub and Kindle mobi)

To Thy Self Be True

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I hope you enjoy this poem as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope it awakens forgotten dreams, talents, hobbies and gifts. I hope it inspires you to reach for the stars, to reach for your dreams.

To Thy Self Be True…. A poem by Carmen Saptouw

I do not wish to unnerve you or to put you to the test

Only to awake your soul to not settle, but to live a life that’s best

To choose a life of passion, to be different, to be rare

To get up, stand up, to question, to care

 

Are you being honest, are you being true

Is this the life you are meant to live

Or is it what others expect of you, what society deem you to

For whom will you be when you do not conform

Who will you be when you walk from the norm

 

To find the answers you need to be honest, you need to be true

You must let your guard down and take off society’s crown

I know this is much that I ask of you

 

Have you found your talent, found your purpose here

Found your role to play

Before you leave this world will you be able to say

I did it, I found my gift and I took it all the way

My gift not only enriched my life, but the lives of others too

Doesn’t that sound great to you

 

Find your talent, find your gift, this I plead of you

Not tomorrow, but today let your journey begin and awaken you from within

Find your talent, call it closer, call it near

For it may lead you to the reason you were born, the reason why you are here

 

If by now you meet my words with a frown

And you reach back for society’s crown

I warn you to put it away for it will only pull you down

You will find yourself shackled and chained

And from you the colour will be drained

 

If you choose to give it a go and ask where do I start, where do I look

Well you might find it in your past, you might find it in a book

But you are off to a great start because you are willing, willing to look

 

Now let your thoughts wander, let them stray

Is there something you always wanted to do

An interest, a hobby, maybe it was the piano, maybe it was kung fu

Is there something you did as a child that still interests you

 

What do you do that totally engrosses you, that takes you and whisks you away

That brightens your day, that brightens your heart

If you know the answer, you know where to start

 

Now some might snicker, some might sneer

But ignore them from them you must stay clear

For whether your passion is to sing or to dance

Make it your duty to give it a chance

 

Do not allow the opinions of others to limit you

Act now and to yourself be true

And bring life to your dream, let it not wither away in the stream

Of maybe, someday, what if or could’ve been

And remain but a mere thought

For that my friend will bring you naught

 

It remains your life and you choose what’s best

I hope it is to live a life that stands out from the rest

And at the end may your gravestone bare the words you got up and tried

Not ever that you had a dream but with you it died

 

With these words I do not wish to unnerve you or to put you to the test

Only to awake your soul to not settle but to live a life that’s best

To choose a life of passion to be different to be rare

To get up, stand up, to question, to care

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Repeat After Me… I Can Do This

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As a child I was taught that the words I CAN’T do not exist. I was encouraged to give it my best shot and take it from there. I wondered why as an adult I still uttered these words. Did I just accept that there are certain things I just can’t do and moved on? Or did I choose not to and ultimately limit myself?

This reminded me of my children’s book, Birdie Learns to Fly, about a little blue bird that couldn’t fly because he believed it and only once he changed his belief could he spread his wings and take flight.

Now I firmly believed that I couldn’t meditate or make pancakes and trust me I have tried in the past. But how will I teach that I can’t do not exist to Leah if I am not willing to change the I can’t to I can or at very least give it another go? So I did just that.

In one of my favourite magazines Good Housekeeping I found a list of varies meditation apps. I decided to download the free Take 10 App from Headspace. It provides you with 10 sessions each only 10 minutes long, which is awesome for today’s busy lifestyle. And all I did was follow the instructions from Andy and now I can meditate. I do it every second day, but now I do it without the app and after a session I feel rested and focused. It has changed my life.

The second challenge was to make pancakes. I found a lovely recipe in my late mother’s old cook books Huisgenoot se Wenresepte 3, A Human. I followed it step by step and flopped a few, but after the third or fourth one it was a success and my family and I enjoyed yummy homemade pancakes. I can’t wait to make some amazing savoury stuffing to go with it – yummy.

See the delicious recipe below.

This has taught me that ultimately I was my only limit and once I reprogrammed my belief meditation and pancakes became a possibility.

Birdie Learns to Fly is available at Barnes and Noble (Nook), Kobo and Smashwords (Epub and Kindle mobi)

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Free Online Book for Children – The Rescue

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The Rescue – Rufus, a brave little mouse, returns from an errand to find his home destroyed and his family kidnapped. He then takes on a journey to rescue them. On the way he is aided by many animals and learns the importance of not only teamwork, but courage and perseverance. Get it now and join Rufus on his adventure as he attempts to safe his family.

Click Here for Free PDF Download. Also available at Barnes and Noble (Nook), Kobo and Smashwords (Epub and Kindle mobi) for Free.

Every Accomplishment Starts with the Decision to Try

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My daughter Leah has just turned two and I can’t help but to reflect upon the last two years. I have watched her closely as she grew from baby to toddler. I have witnessed her trails, her triumphs, and mostly her persistence. I think children are born with an engrained resilience. When Leah was trying to walk she struggled, she stumbled, she fell, but she always got up and just tried again, until the day she took that first step then two then five. Now she runs through the house playing peek a boo.  They say, “When at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.” However Leah’s actions showed me that you might need to give it a few more tries before you succeed.

I am currently in the process of converting my book A Trio of Adventurous Tales into three individual books. I am using Smashwords a distributor of e-books for self- published authors. Once you format your book according to the provided style guide, you upload it to the Smashwords website. Smashwords will then upload it to major e-book retailers like Barnes and Noble, Kobe ect.

San Cover-page-001 San’s Quest was the first book I formatted and tried to upload, but after each attempt I received a modification request from Smashwords. So by the fifth failed attempt I was like seriously! I am done!  It was then that I remembered my little Leah and I figured if she could get up and try again so can I. So I dusted myself off, moved passed my frustration and tried again. Thomas Edison the great inventor said, “I have not failed. I have just found 10 000 ways that don’t work. Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.” And you know what on the sixth attempt San’s Quest was accepted into the Smashwords Premium Catalogue.

Another example of persistence is portrayed in my story Dan and The Frog, Dan struggles to use his slingshot he wants to give it up. One of his friends encourages him not to quit, but to continue to practice the skill. Later when the King frog is in danger Dan is reminded of his friend’s words and tries to use the slingshot again. It is only after a few tries that he hits his target and successfully saves the King. Now what would have happened to the King frog if Dan decided to give up the slingshot?

Click Here to download the free PDF version of Dan and the Frog.

Happy Reading!

PS: If you are interested in tips to nurture persistence in your child click the link for great article….12 Tips to Raise a Persistent Child