Did We Do Any Learning? [3]


9 Things I’ve Re-Learned This Year

Life lessons aren’t mastered in a single bold stroke.  We learn, we practice, we forget, we remember, we re-learn. Here are a few key notes I re-learned this year:

  1. Like a bottomless well, Ego’s desire for applause, accolades, approval, acknowledgement, acclaim, awards, and recognition is never satiated.
  2. When we stroke Ego, it purrs. When we stop, it snarls.
  3. It’s silly to buy another pair of shoes because we want an Ego boost from others when they see us rocking our new ruby slippers.
  4. People want us to do what they want us to do when they want us to do it. They are affronted when we don’t.
  5. When people ask us to “be honest” . . . they don’t always mean it.
  6. In many ways, we are at the mercy of the tides. Life ebbs and flows.  Joy comes and goes.  Sorrow is hard to avoid.
  7. Even if we’re not convinced that “everything happens for a reason,” taking time to look for “silver linings” helps us deal with passing clouds.
  8. When we aren’t wedded to a set destination, we enjoy the journey (and its inevitable detours), more.
  9. If we are enjoying the journey, we win. No matter where the wind blows us.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Nrhatch @ Spirit Lights The Way 


Diversity and the Art of Writing

Writing has reassured me that the things we feel deeply as individuals are universal—love, rejection, angst, joy, belonging; that it’s okay to admit your vulnerabilities. It might feel scary, but it also makes you authentic. Your foibles, shame, and guilt might be someone else’s quiet truth.

People read novels autobiographically, through the lens of their life’s narrative, and their values and opinions. My heroine might be a role-model for one reader, but another reader might want to slap her. I have little control over how readers see my characters as an author, and this came as a big surprise. Most readers love my male lead, but one reader thought him a tosser (although she did reassure me she’d shag him in a heartbeat, oh dear!). Now I realise I can’t write my characters to keep everyone happy, it’s not possible. That’s okay, life isn’t a popularity contest. Besides, my characters largely write themselves.

Writing has taught me that diversity isn’t some little politically correct box to tick. Diversity abounds, it is the norm. The trick is to be open to differences and to hold back from rushing in to judge.  I attempt this by thinking my characters’ thoughts, walking in their shoes, and imagining their predicaments. Besides, wouldn’t it be boring if we were all the same?

Susan @ Susan Lattwein

Susan’s novel, Arafura – Unfinished Business, is a gritty romance with a bit of sex, dynamite, and hilarity – not always at the same time.


Real Men Carry Purses

Statements of fantasy can be metaphors for real life—you can live backwards and you can still learn at age 403! I once read that even if your body never aged, you’re statistically likely to die from an accident before you hit 600. See, you just learned something! I told you it was possible.

I have previously claimed on this blog that I am 403 years old, but I am far closer to 43. Although I exaggerated my age for humorous effect, one can learn after 40. And, while we can’t literally live backwards, we can become more open and tolerant, which is the opposite of what usually happens when people get older.

So I learned two things this year, both related: to respect women on a higher plane and to break free from my personal gender stereotypes. While I’ve long thought of myself as a feminist ally and viewed women as equals, that didn’t stop my subtle objectification. I was never the creepy dude, but I wasn’t the ally I thought I was, either. The journey toward being a better person is a welcome one.

With encouragement from the women in my life, I finally bought something this year I’ve wanted for ages, a purse. Why can’t a guy have a purse? It elevates the quality of life. I needed to build up my “bravery” first, which shows you how badass women are. They carry purses all the time.

Eric @ ericjohnbaker




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53 thoughts on “Did We Do Any Learning? [3]

  1. The “silver linings” do get me through tough times. Does becoming more open and tolerant really come with age? Yes, over the past few years, I’d like to think that I have…..I’d attribute it to enlightenment and re-learning “familiar” truths which I thought I knew and “walked in”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think Eric was alluding to is the difficulty of learning as one becomes older and set in their ways. Hence, ” . . . we can become more open and tolerant, which is the opposite of what usually happens when people get older.” Kudos to you for staying open to learning and relearning 🙂

      @silver linings, me too. Even in the bleakest times, if we search, we can find at least one.
      Thanks Tony!


  2. When people ask us to be honest they don’t really mean it – so true . Even I don’t always want people to give their honest opinion about my issues I’ld rather not hear anything at such time3s so I don’t ask.


    1. Many of us are like that also- I didn’t ask you, so please don’t tell me! Your comment reminds me of a couple of quotes about truth:

      1. Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed. ― Friedrich Nietzsche
      2. We need Truth-Tellers because our capacity to live in denial is astounding – John Ortberg

      Thanks for sharing 🙂


  3. When I read the post, 9 Things I’ve Re-learned This Year, I had quite a few images dancing my head. A swirl, in fact, of a concatenation of ideas and emotions. First of all I certainly agree that learning requires a repetition of ideas and processes. Any skill must be performed over and over again to master. A combination of talent and practice, say, 10,000 hours, should about do it.

    When we stroke our ego it purrs, when we stop it snarls. Ye,s the ego is a powerful motivator. Like any kind of powerful thing it can both be both be dangerous as well as beneficent. I am reminded of the Kris Kristofferson song, Little Girl Lost, “She’ll feed your hungry ego toil you think your’e quite a man, but you better count your fingers when she turns lose of your hand.”

    In Buddhism the ego is another word for self. The concept of “no self” is the manifestation of impermanence. Impermanence is a manifestation of no self. impermanence means being transformed at every moment. Nothing exits by itself. It has to depend on every other thing.

    Ego also puts me in mind of Hungry Ghosts. These are creature who represent greed, envy, and jealousy. They are never satisfied and are always hungry.

    It is all about the journey. Buy the ticked and take the ride has always been my motto.


    1. Nancy gave us 9 things, but I suspect we are chewing on more! True, we never stop learning if we don’t want to (Eric says we can learn at age 403!).

      Ah, Ego. I guess it is nice to put it in its place.

      “Buy the ticket and take the ride.” I like the sound of that . . . though I feel some trepidation.

      Thanks Benn, for sharing your insights with us.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “When we stroke Ego, it purrs. When we stop, it snarls.” Fantastic, Nancy! You couldn’t have said more with fewer words.

    Susan, isn’t it amazing when we can learn something about the world from characters we invented?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Timi. This is top notch. I love what all three of the contributors shared. I can especially relate to Nrhatch’s point numbers eight and nine. I think I’m living in that reality. I think I have also learnt a little bit of the same thing that Susan has learnt this year as well. Not just on a writing level, but on a life level.
    Really awesome post Timi.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Staci, I’m happy that you can relate with what Nancy, Susan, and Eric shared. We’re all doing life together. Points 8 & 9 hold a wealth of wisdom in them, that can make life less stressful.

      Susan asks, “Wouldn’t it be boring if we were all the same?” The answer, in my view, is yes!

      Thanks 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Congratulations to Susan and Eric for well written, thought out pieces. I like the thought that diversity abounds and I agree we should be able to break down stereotypical behavior. Go for the purse, Eric.

    And Timi, #s 8 and 9 summarize my philosophy. It’s all about the journey. –Curt


  7. Thank you for these snippets of clarity.

    @”When we aren’t wedded to a set destination, we enjoy the journey (and its inevitable detours), more”. This is so true!

    I sometimes feel like I’ve wandered off my life’s map, like the GPS broke or something, but now that I think about it, the detours have been rather meaningful.


    1. Nedoux, I feel you and I smile as I read that “the detours have been rather meaningful.” I too have wandered. The detours have been costly and painful. But divine providence makes everything come together, so I can look back and smile 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. @Nrhatch, so true what you say, the lessons that life brings our way never ends. We learn, forget and then we re-learn. That’s the way life goes….
    @ Susan, yes it would be very boring indeed if we were all the same! Thank God for diversity. As I always say, everyone is different with their quirks and idiosyncrasies and that’s what makes life so beautiful and interesting.
    @ Eric, more power to you! Who says guys can’t carry purses? Good on you for stepping out of the box. Perhaps I shall purchase a purse for the hubs this Christmas! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. @”I needed to build up my “bravery” first, which shows you how badass women are. They carry purses all the time.” Oh boy, I’m not one of these brave women! I need some serious growing up to do 😀

    @”When we stroke Ego, it purrs. When we stop, it snarls….When people ask us to “be honest” . . . they don’t always mean it.” And did I learn this lesson, more than twice this year. We are a peculiar bunch…Nigerians, that is. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Sometimes, not.

    @”Besides, my characters largely write themselves.” I found this strangely humorous, lol! 😀 Although it reminds me of a contrasting statement that words sometimes take the life of the speaker.

    I think it also paints the relationship between Nigerian parents and their children; “The art of being Nigerian” is something that’s handed down from generation to generation. But this time around, ain’t nobody got time for that! We want more self-differentiation than group affiliation.

    And the result? “This world don spoil. Back in my days…”
    P.S. I’m not out to get Nigerians. Well, not intentionally. Lol 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lol, you are out to draw blood from Nigerians! XD
      It would seem that Nigerians and Nigerian culture had many lessons to teach you this year.

      @words sometimes take the life of the speaker, sometimes my pen (keyboard) takes a life of it’s own. I start to write in a certain direction, and the next thing I know, I’m going in another direction that I did not (consciously) premeditate.

      “The art of being Nigerian” is something that’s handed down from generation to generation . . . Little rebel Maggielola! You have spoken in proverbs today! XD


  10. WOW – My mother was reading your blog and she was deeply impressed by the details and the strong message. The old generation had the best education and discipline, I still remember by school days as wonderful journey!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. @nrhatch, these resonated;
    “8.When we aren’t wedded to a set destination, we enjoy the journey (and its inevitable detours), more.
    9.If we are enjoying the journey, we win. No matter where the wind blows us.”
    It’s something I strive towards, enjoying the journey, while maintaining my personal values. It makes life a whole lot colourful 🙂

    “Writing has taught me that diversity isn’t some little politically correct box to tick. Diversity abounds, it is the norm.”
    I wish a lot of people would always remember this; that we are different in so many ways, and that isn’t a bad thing. If we tried holding back the judgement, we’d probably get along a lot better.

    Your purse has become legendary 😀 And I applaud your bravery in breaking away from stereotypes. Now that’s a difficult thing–readjusting your life viewing lens. I currently am in some battle of sort with the most rigid male I know, and a part of me thinks this rigidity is borne of distrust for the world and perhaps oneself. We may wonder just how much more adjusting will we have to do once we begin at all?

    Love the theme here. And thank you for bringing these wonderful writers together 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Uju, happy to hear you do. As the Doris Lessing quote implies, it’s about understanding things we already know in a new way. I’ve found what others have learnt insightful too.


    2. I still find myself slipping back on ingrained beliefs at times, reacting unconsciously. I don’t think we ever find the holy grail in our quest for enlightenment, but maybe we get better at reading the treasure map.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Hi Eric, what’s the colour of your purse? The other day, I saw a guy with his wife’s bag hanging from his shoulder, chatting with the guys, while his wife busied herself with this and that. He looked uber-cool. If he walked into the office like that . . . well . . . 🙂

    Although you don’t elaborate on the gender stereotypes you held (which is fine), I applaud your “journey toward being a better person.”

    Traditional gender stereotypes are changing. One example is in the area of women working and becoming financially able to be their own providers and protectors. However, the primal need men have to be providers and protectors hasn’t gone away . . .

    How do men and women navigate changing gender roles in the face of needs that are peculiar to each gender?

    Thanks for being “brave” and sharing!


    1. My purse is a traditional dark brown leather one. It called to me from the shelf. We both knew it was meant to be! 😆

      Regarding the comments in my little bowl of word soup I spilled up there, I’m probably conflating sexism with gender stereotypes when I describe my actions. You know, saying I support equality for women while still evaluating them on a superficial level. Being caught off guard when a woman asserts herself but not when a man does. Subtle things that stop one from thinking and acting on a higher level about the opposite sex.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dark brown leather, of course it was meant to be! 🙂
        @ Being caught off guard, we all are at some point. The ‘new’ rules of engagement can be fuzzy. All the more reason to cut one another some slack. 😉


  13. Susan, kudos to you for finishing your second novel. What a journey it must’ve been. Because people read, “through the lens of their life’s narrative, and their values and opinions,” writing can be scary. What if I’m misunderstood? What if admitting my vulnerabilities lands me in hot water?

    “I have little control over how readers see my characters as an author . . .” My sister and I grew up in the same house, read the same book, and came up with different conclusions 🙂

    Sometimes I read the comments following a piece I wrote and smile. Maybe one person touches on what I was really trying to say. However, the others broaden my perspective; take me places I may never have gone. It’s a beautiful thing. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Timi. Thanks so much for letting me be part of this post, and your blog. I really enjoy reading what you and other bloggers have to say here, and how you facilitate discussion. I’m still learning, and yes, re-learning too! Thank YOU. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Thanks Nancy. Yes, we forget and relearn (ouch!). I should frame the lessons for they strike a chord, number 5, especially. A long time ago, a mentor advised me that in dealing with people, for the most part, I should practice total honesty, but not full disclosure. I couldn’t tell the difference; it seemed she was asking me to lie.

    Now, I see its usefulness. Many times, people (that includes me), think they want us to be honest, but they don’t- I think they want us to tell them “their version of truth.” I have found that in general, people find it easier to swallow truth incrementally. I can serve people better by unveiling truth in increments.

    I am learning to enjoy my journey. Now, that’s better. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! Incremental truth . . . bite by bite. If we try to cram the whole elephant into their mouth at once, it’s too much for them to swallow. So they spit it out.

      thanks for hosting this series and inviting me to participate. It’s a great way to wind up the year.

      Liked by 1 person

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