Category: Love

Movie Monday: Letters To Juliet

It’s cold and rainy and windy in Wellington. The temperature inches barely into the two digits. So it makes perfect sense–to me–to watch a movie set in one of my favourite regions: Tuscany/Italy. Seeing the red Fiat with Claire, Sophie, and Charley drive along country roads studded with slender cypress trees… ahh. Is there anything more beautiful?

Maybe the scene almost at the end, when the whole family sits around a large rustique dining table in the lush Tuscan garden beats the car scene. It’s hard to pick because the views of Tuscany, Siena, and Verona are simply stunning. Trust me on this: the movie is worth seeing for the scenery alone. Continue reading “Movie Monday: Letters To Juliet”

Romance Writer? Seriously?

 

origin_630008218Just the other day a friend asked me what I am doing now, being retired, and having moved to Wellington. When I told her I’m writing romance novels, she said, “Romance Writer? Seriously? You? The Mills & Boons kind of stuff?”

Yip, I suppose, the Mills & Boons kind of stuff, if it means writing stories where it’s pretty obvious on page number two who’ll end up in their own Happy Ever After on page number 289. And even though it’s predictable, I love going for the ride and rejoice with the heroine and fall in love with the hero.

I used to be a psychotherapist—though on second thought, ‘used to be’ may not be quite right. Thirty years of identifying people’s behaviors, actions, thought patterns, language expressions, and body language, don’t stop because I’ve turned sixty-five and received a Gold Card.

My friend’s surprise said loud and clear, in her eyes I sank from the lofty heights of psychology into the mud-filled gutter of rubbish scribblers, who are unable to write real literary pieces worth reading, like Shakespeare or Dostojewski—did I miss one?

I know romance writers are looked down upon in general, and my friend affirmed that for me. But it got me thinking. Why is that? Why is writing about people starving for love, longing for the one person who understands them on a soul-level so frowned upon? I’ve got an idea! Bear with me for a brief psychology rendition. I promise to make it a short one.

I have a Ph.D. in Mental Health and Environmental Sciences. For my thesis design and analysis, I used recognition theory (RT), a critical social theory formulated by Axel Honneth. If you are interested in sociology, go and read up on it. It’s cool!

RT says human beings need recognition to be ‘healthy’ and function adequately in society. We get recognition through LOVE, RIGHTS, and SOLIDARITY. If any of these forms are absent, we struggle. We fight for recognition. Have been in the past, and will in the future. It’s in our nature.

LOVE provided by parents, partners, and other important persons. If we are not affirmed by love that our existence is important, we struggle.

RIGHTS granted through legal systems and structures in society. If legal systems don’t grant us rights to vote, equality, freedom, to name a few, we struggle.

SOLIDARITY through acknowledgment by our peers and community as someone who contributes something valuable. If our lifestyle or our work, are not appreciated, we struggle.

How does that relate to romance writing? Because recognition through Love is the most important one for all human functioning.

We romance writers provide that in spades. Romance stories guarantee a happy ending, the fulfilling of a dream, of a need we all have. The hero and heroines show us the way of overcoming obstacles to the magnificent outcome of everlasting love. We read the last line and know they will make it. It gives us hope – we might make it too, there could be love for us too.

That explains why romance is the most read genre currently. Why do other’s (critics) put it down? Maybe because they can’t do it. It might surprise you, but it’s damn hard to get a contract with Mills&Bohns. You have to be a really good writer!

Are romances realistic? Yes and No.

The latest count from 2016 showed there exist 1810 billionaires in the world. If we take our beloved romance writers by the word, they lurk at every corner. But please, don’t be so harsh and take that literally. It’s not meant to be. IT’S FICTION, PEOPLE!

Even though the stories, characters, and settings are idealized and rarely possible for the average Jill and Joe to reach, we all search for love, recognition, and a warm body to cuddle up to when we go to bed. We might even learn real valuable life skills we can use in our real life relationships. For example, Headboards are for handcuffs! Thank you, E.L. James.

A Tuscan Affair

Book excerpt: A Tuscan Affair

 

Anna froze and held her breath.

One glance at the two men Mackenzie led into her office unsettled her trademark cool composure. How many years had she fantasised that he’d walk through her door? But not after over thirty years! Her knees trembled, and then, like a deep-sea diver who’d been too long under water, she came up for air and took a deep, gasping breath.

Did he recognise her? That would not do. She ignored the flutter in her chest. This was not an occasion for fluttering. As one of Auckland’s leading lawyers, she had enough experience and self-control to deal with the appearance of a mistake from a long time ago. She schooled her face and closed the door behind them.

“Good morning. I’m Anna King. Please, take a seat.” Without a smile of recognition, she kept her voice cool and detached. Not by accident was she known as the Ice Queen, an image that took years to perfect. She motioned the two men to the group of chairs in front of a modern fireplace and picked a seat opposite them.

The older of the two said “Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Francesco Falcone and this is my son, Antonio. He came all the way from Tuscany to help me with my divorce.” She could relate to the pride and joy in the father’s voice. “Your colleague Mark Peterson handles my business affairs and said you would be the best lawyer to take on my divorce.” He smiled at Anna. “Your colleague is an ardent admirer of you.”

“That’s very kind of him.” So, Antonio was his name? Call me amore mio, he’d told her thirty-four years ago. That blissful night his soft whisperings were enough for her. She didn’t have a need for a name.

It was he, wasn’t it? Could she be mistaken? She, the lawyer who never made mistakes? Although no longer the sun-tanned young man with the body of a Roman God in red swim shorts, he looked the picture of sophistication in his expensive, tailored suit. His short, black hair showed a titillating dusting of grey at his temples.

There was no doubt. Back in nineteen-eighty-two he swept into her life like a force of nature, and, like the outgoing tide, vanished from her life the following day when she boarded the train to Rome. Now he stood in her office with no signs of recognition! She couldn’t very well ask whether he remembered their night at the beach around the bonfire. It wouldn’t be professional to bring up the past. She took a deep breath and looked up from the folder in her hand, calling herself to order.

“I’m having coffee; may I offer you each a cup as well?” The situation called for a coffee, an extra strong one. She rose and walked over to her desk. Both nodded and Antonio held up two fingers.

“Two espressos, black, each two sugars. Thank you.”

She switched on the intercom and relayed the order to Mackenzie, her assistant. Then it hit her.

Lucca.

It would be a disaster if Lucca came to work this morning. She shuddered and switched on the intercom again. “Please, call my son and tell him, he doesn’t have to come into the office this morning. I’ll meet him at court.”

On the way back to her chair, she caught her image in the antique mirror next to her bookshelves. Her reflection showed no signs of the young careless girl with a backpack and sandals, who danced around bonfires with her gypsy skirt and an infectious zest for life. Though the years have been kind to her, even with the lines around the eyes and her mouth. Not bad for fifty-six. She straightened her shoulders and joined the Falcones again.

Mackenzie entered the office. Balancing three cups on a tray, she passed the coffee to them and asked, “Is that all?”

“Thanks, Mackenzie. I’ll call you if we need anything else.”

They sipped their coffee until Antonio broke the silence. “Pardon me, have we met? I have a strong sense we know each other, but I can’t…” his voice trailed off and he squinted his eyes, scrutinising her.

Acting on impulse never served her well, so she dipped her head to the right and looked at him, as if trying to find a memory to fit him in.

“Not that I recall.”

He came much too close for comfort. Their situation was not like two acquaintances enjoying a reunion after many years. It was much more complex and required a well thought through strategy. She turned to Francesco.

“Would you mind telling me about the circumstances that led to the divorce proceedings? I’ll then be able to devise a strategy for us to go forward.”

Antonio Falcone glanced at her in disbelief. She would bet a month’s salary he usually had women laying at his feet instead of being dismissed with four simple words.

His father folded his hands on the table. “Angelica is a New Zealander. She came to our vineyard as part of an organised tour and bought a few boxes of our best wine. I delivered them to her hotel and the rest is history. We were happy, you know, even though she’s thirty-five years younger than I!” His voice softened, and he swallowed, recalling better times, no doubt.

Francesco’s struggle touched her. He told the story of their marriage like a rehearsed script he had gone over many times to find where things went astray between him and his much younger wife. He fought to control his emotions when his son barged in.

“Angelica is a gold digger. There is no doubt. She told my father she wanted a divorce with no prior indication she was unhappy in their marriage.” He huffed, and his voice turned bitter. “Why would she? She’s lived the life of a princess. I want you to set an investigator onto her and do a thorough background check. I bet there is more to the story. Why file for divorce now?”

His attitude showed all the signs of someone used to command and having people at his beck and call. He’d figured it all out and expected her to jump. She suppressed the urge to grin. He’d soon find out she’s walking to her own sweet drums and nobody else’s.

“You’re welcome to hire a private investigator. Ask him to send a copy of his report to my office.” She hoped she smiled without too much of a smirk.

Francesco cleared his throat. “You’ve to excuse my son. He’s used to commandeering people and doesn’t know when to stop. What he meant to say is, we would love if you would contract one of your trusted investigators to look into Angelica’s circumstances. Her request for a divorce came out of the blue. Nobody can make sense of it.”

“I’d be happy to do that for you. Please forward any correspondence you had so far with your wife or her lawyer regarding the divorce.” She then finished her coffee and collected the notes she made. “This is an excellent beginning and gives me lines of inquiry to pursue. Can you think of anything else we need to discuss?” She checked her calendar. “If not we can meet again Friday this week, at the same time. By then I’ll have a strategy ready for you.”

Anna closed the door behind the men and sank into her chair. Tears welled up. She wrapped her arms around herself. Thirty-four years. Fate had a cruel way of interfering with her life and reminding her of times she’d rather kept buried.

When the first tears pearled down her face, accompanied by little sobs, she bit her fist to stop the scream building inside her.

Mackenzie entered Anna’s office. “Lucca asked me to tell you…Anna! Oh dear!” She stood next to Anna’s chair and put her hand on Anna’s back. With a soft voice, Mackenzie said, “That…was the twin’s father, wasn’t it? They look so much like him.”

Anna pulled herself up, took a deep breath and gazed at her assistant. “Yes, but you can’t breathe a single word about it to anyone.”

The Secret Weapon in Relationships: Kindness

origin_4187152134

As you may know, I have written a little book about relationships and how to make them work. Over about 60 pages I have-in one way or other-emphasized the importance of kindness. Basically pointing out that if you bring kindness to your relationships, be they intimate ones, work relationships, friendships, or those with family members, you have a great recipe for lasting, loving, relationships.

A friend gave me her feedback the other day, which made me stop and think. Besides some very well-meant comments about grammar and flow issues that could benefit from improvements, she said it offers “surface insight into solutions to very complex problems”. That puzzled me. As if loving kindness is a ‘too simple’ solution for complex relationship problems.

Whoever says that ‘kindness’ is simple hasn’t grasp the depth of insight and high level of awareness it takes to practice kindness. If it were easy to be kind, if kindness were the main driving emotion/attitude people have with each other, we would not have criticism, judgment, hate, wars, violence. It requires humility, love, and seeing the good in the other person rather than looking for shortcomings. “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt (painting above) symbolizes this point perfectly!

I know for myself how often I am unkind, when my ego gets in the way, when I am thoughtless, when I can’t be bothered with other people’s needs, when the inside voice in me won’t be silenced and shouts “What about me!!!!”, and lastly, when I am unkind with myself!

No, being kind is not easy. We all admire Mandela, Gandhi, and the Dalai Lama as they show us the meaning of non-violence, of kindness. Very few people master that level of kindness and love. You can test it for yourself by being highly focused for one day to be kind to yourself and others…and notice when you are not! I would love to hear from you how that experiment went!

So if you want to spruce up your valentines day with a simple, easy solution to relationship problems, go and buy my book Delicious Love Forever: Recipes for lasting, loving relationships  either on kindle or a hard copy, or read it for free on ‘kindle unlimited’. It gives you simple concepts – but don’t be fooled, they take a lot to put into practice!

photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/oilpainting-gallery/4187152134/

#3 Mistake That Kills The Love In Relationships: Ignoring the Weather Forecast

stormy weatherMost people have enough common sense to mind the weather forecast. You can see that on the motorway when all the cars are slowing down as soon as it starts raining heavily. I remember back when we had a sailing boat, we wouldn’t go out when the winds were so high that the risk factor out-weight the pleasure that could be gained. Of course, there are most likely some exceptions, some people are dare devils who zoomed along the motorway with high-speed totally ignoring the conditions.

Most people however ‘drive to the conditions’. If the weather is particularly nasty, they might even elect to stay at home. It makes perfect sense considering that driving in stormy weather is not pleasurable, it’s dangerous, one’s field of vision is impaired, and you might not get very far. Continue reading “#3 Mistake That Kills The Love In Relationships: Ignoring the Weather Forecast”

5 Mistakes That Kill The Love In Relationships (# 2) I am right and you are wrong

wrong rightNumber two of the mistakes that kill the love in relationships is the conviction that MY view of things is right and YOUR views of things is wrong. I don’t think there has ever been a couple that presented for relationship counselling, coaching, or therapy that was not caught in that erroneous assumption.

To be fair, it is not only an affliction couples suffer from, but human kind in general follows that strict line of thinking. Hence the fights, wars, and conflicts we observe throughout history and present day circumstances. How much suffering happened because people thought they were right and hence their actions were justified: from human sacrifice, to slavery, to witch hunt, to wars, oppression, human rights …. the list is endless.  Continue reading “5 Mistakes That Kill The Love In Relationships (# 2) I am right and you are wrong”

5 Mistakes That Kill The Love In Relationships (# 1)

broken heart 2Most people want to be happy, or at least content. For most people that involves a caring family, partner, or friends. When we have found someone with whom to share our life, dreams, or difficulties.

More and more people understand that there is no such thing as a soul mate, THE ONE that makes me happy. Any relationship can work out as long as people want to make it work. That leaves the onus squarely in the court of each individual. There are 5 mistakes which – if you can avoid them – will almost guarantee you a sustainable, loving relationship.  Continue reading “5 Mistakes That Kill The Love In Relationships (# 1)”

The Secret to Harmony in Relationships

swansSometimes our relationships are nothing like we’ve imagined it. Sometimes we come to a dead-end and find that we don’t have a clear idea where to go from here.
What is the secret of people who have great relationships, who have loving intimate partners, get along well with their kids, have friends who are fun to be around, and colleagues who are supportive and co-operative?
A common misunderstanding is that you have to find the ‘right’ partner, the ‘right’ boss to work for, the ‘right’ friends. And if that is not helping, you have learn how to communicate better, how to listen actively, how to challenge effectively – in summary  how to do things right.

Love is Everywhere!

 

The subatomic particles
love each other so much
they form an atom,
which loves the other atoms
so much they get together
and form a molecule
which loves the other molecules
so much they bind together
and create matter
material reality
which is so attracted
to other matter
that it collaborates
and cooperates
and works together and creates
binding together
and life is born
and love amplifies
love animates
our very
existence
To not recognize
the overwhelming amount
of love present
in the world
around you
is to just be blind.

Wake up

Poem by – Eric Allen Bell
click the link to get to his website Continue reading “Love is Everywhere!”

Finding peace – letting go of anger

I thought the end of the year is a good time to focus on what is important. In my opinion it’s finding peace – inner peace as well as peace in the world around us. The latter doesn’t seem to be achieved easily considering the level of violence experienced worldwide – amongst countries, religious groups, racial groups, communities, and even families. There is everything from bomb attacks in Nigeria on Christmas Day, overflowing refugee camps, assaults, murder, women’s refuges at the maximum of their capacity, abuse of children, road rage, down to grumpy old (wo)men. Continue reading “Finding peace – letting go of anger”