Posted in bloggers, Careers, Self-Discovery

The Illusion of Power

I’ve heard it said that power rests best in the hands of people who never sought to gain it in the first place.

When you move up to a position where you have authority over people, its easy to forget that with that authority and power comes the responsibility to always look out for the well-being of those under your care.

Its very easy to succumb to the mentality that people are there to follow your every order, to bow to your whims, and to be subordinate in every way short of fetching you tea and biscuits.

When you feed this mentality, it gives you a false sense of pride – and we all know this cometh before the fall.

Part of that is because pride gets in the way of you being able to listen to people around you. Pride also makes it difficult for you to accept feedback, and to accept the fact that you don’t know everything and you’re not always right.

The knee-jerk reaction to being questioned is to become defensive. But actually, having your decisions questioned should not feel like an attack. I’ve actually come to look at it as like a safety net, because I know someone is there to check my actions and to make sure I don’t make the mistake of implementing things that could go horribly wrong.

I guess its hard finding that balance between asserting your authority to make sure people know to respect you, and not overly elevating yourself above the people whose respect you seek.

Respect comes from people knowing you’re there for them, that you’ll be fair and compromise when the situation calls for it but that you also have the balls to make the tough decisions when the going gets rough.

I think having the respect of your team is where your true source of power lies, and its something so precious and something that takes ages to cultivate that you never want to do anything to jeopardise that.

I suppose I just need to remind myself that being in power doesn’t give anyone license to be an autocratic bitch. The idea that authority gives you power which then means you can do whatever you want is an illusion that you should nip in the bud lest it comes back to haunt you.

A little humility goes a long way.

Stay grounded. Stay humble.

Posted in Books, Fantasy, Reviews

Book Review: The Ruin of Kings – Jenn Lyons

There’s few things I hate more than not being able to finish a book.

I tried with this one, I really did. I wanted to give up after the first few chapters but I persevered because the writing’s not bad, truly. I like the snarky humour, the sarcasm and I even came to tolerate the convoluted non-linear narration.

But writing fantasy is like telling a good joke. If you have to explain the punchline, you’re doing it wrong. There were a lot of telling and explaining in this book. Plot twists were “discovered” by the hero without any build-up whatsoever, and the backstories were so complicated that I gave up trying to keep up.

I’m not even sure what the premise was. I thought I was reading a book about dragons, something that I’m really into as I wait for the final season of Game of Thrones to finish. But there’s ONE dragon in this book and he’s as interesting as an Excel spreadsheet. I was waiting for a ‘Dracarys’ moment but he just went on and on and on about what he would do to the hero when he caught him without actually doing anything. Its very difficult to be bored out of your mind when reading about dragons but this book has achieved that.

The hero, Kihrin, was mildly interesting. He’s got a mysterious past, a somewhat conflicted sexuality and he’s got personality with a capital P. He’s got snark down to an art form and I like how he never lets anyone or anything get him down. He does what he can to get by and makes no apologies for the things he’s done to survive. I love survivors.

Kihrin is – from the little I understood about the backstory- in the centre of a great prophecy concerning the end of the known world. Good premise, maybe. But it all went downhill from there with all the deaths and subsequent resurrections, the massive cast of characters who can take on different forms which makes the cast even bigger than it already is…it was all just unnecessarily complicated.

I DNF’d at about 70%. It had taken me 2 weeks to even get that far and that point my to-read pile had grown too big for me to ignore the fact that I had simply lost interest in this book.

I don’t like giving bad reviews. This could just be all me, really. Other people seem to find it good and kudos to them for being able to keep up. For me, there’s a reason why they say simplicity is beauty. You don’t need all kinds of props and gimmicks in Fantasy, you just have to tell the story.

Also, if you’re going to have a book with dragons, USE YOUR DRAGONS for more than just show.

Overall rating: 2 stars (and mostly because I like the cover!)

Posted in Uncategorized

Processing…

I’ve been feeling so unmoored and restless lately, like I’ve lost my way and I don’t know how to get back to my centre. Its funny because on the surface it appears my life is going swimmingly. But I think what I’ve recently discovered is how important it is for us to take time and reflect.

I haven’t been doing a lot of blogging because I’ve stopped reflecting. And that has contributed a lot to the loss of my sense of self, and the disturbance to my peace of mind. London is a busy city, time goes by so quickly you find yourself on Friday wondering where the hell the week went.

It sometimes feels like you go through life as if it were all a blur, and you fail to take time to really be in the moment. You fail to savour each encounter and interaction because you’re already looking forward to the next one. I scoff sometimes at people who preach mindfulness and being fully in the present but lately I feel like they might be on to something.

For me the future has always been the Emerald City at the end of the yellow brick road. I’m always looking for the next big thing, the next big opportunity or life event that I can then blab about on social media. What I failed to realise is how much that affects my ability to fully immerse myself in what’s actually happening to or around me.

This blog is some kind of exercise to that effect. I really don’t have anything concrete to write about. I’m just letting the words flow without any thought as to structure and subject matter and hoping I might be able to make sense of all of it, and gain a better understanding of where I am mentally and emotionally at this stage.

I think I’ve had a rough couple of months. When you move up professionally you tend to give more of yourself to your work than you should, and that takes its toll no matter how much you love your job. I always aim to have a healthy work-life balance but I’ve forgotten that in my quest to prove myself at my new place of employment. I wanted to rub my success in the face of all my naysayers but did that really give me any satisfaction?

Satisfaction should always come from a job well done and nothing else, otherwise you’re doing the job for all the wrong reasons.

You can’t always trust people to do the right thing. The right thing is subjective and dependent on the individual and their life experiences. Your standards of morality and right or wrong is always going to be different from that of your neighbour. In other words, that bitch you know will always think she’s right even when she’s so wrong it hurts. And she’ll be a bitch forever.

I learned in college about the 90-10 principle. 10% of life is what happens to you, 90% is how your respond to it. You can stoop to the level of all the nasty and negative people you encounter, or you can laugh in the face of bitchiness and remember that you can still be empathetic and compassionate because you are the better person.

I believe in karma. Sooner or later people will always reap the rewards of what they sow and what goes around will come around. Retribution and comeuppance may take on a form no one expects, but they’re there all the same.

What else do I have to write about?

Relationships are messy. I’ve thought about this so much these past couple of weeks. Like can you imagine how much of yourself you give (and lose) when you enter a relationship? I mean, you now have to think of another person and consider their needs and wants before you even think about what you need and what you want. I find it amazing that anyone is capable of being that selfless but you see it every time in parents with their children, or when you see that rare relationship that really embodies #couplegoals.

I suppose the reason why I’m thinking about that is because more often than not my thoughts inevitably stray to my perpetually single state and I wonder whether the reason why I’m still single is because I’m not capable of giving that much of myself to others. I used to think I was, and I know I probably did so at one point in my life. But then I got burned, and my heart’s been closed up ever since, waiting for someone to help it beat again.

Recently I feel like I’ve found that person who makes me excited again, who makes me look forward to getting up each day because of the endless possibilities ahead. I sometimes think that’s the fuel that keeps me going: the thought that, no matter how bad it gets, life can take a crazy turn and its always, always, full of infinite maybe’s and possibilities.

With my luck though, that possibility would probably include this guy being in a serious committed relationship and him not wanting to have anything to do with me. But still. Possibilities.

I wonder if anyone is actually taking the time to read this verbal diarrhoea. If you are, thank you and congratulations. You’ve just been privy to thoughts that I haven’t been able to tell a single person in my life these past few months. Talking about anything real or deep and meaningful to my friends has become difficult for some reason.

I guess that’s why I love blogging. Its always easier to be vulnerable in a room full of strangers.

I will get back to more structured posts and book reviews later on. But for now, allow me this one kindness of letting me just ramble without filter.

Writing is the best kind of reflecting and processing after all.

Posted in Books, Fantasy, LGBT, women, Women's literature

Book Review: The Priory of The Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon

I’ve been trying to find words for the past 24 hours that will do this book justice and so far all I have to show for it are drafts that I’ve since decided were rubbish. Sometimes when a book comes out that is so ambitious in its scope, and just so damn interesting, words fail me.

Book like these are an experience. So much patience and skill went into the world-building, which we all know is the foundation of any good fantasy story. The Queendom of Inys, the mysterious Priory and the distant East all felt like real places, places that I would pay big bucks to visit I might add. Each separate location had its own language, religion, traditions and culture. Its a world that felt like it sprung fully-formed from the depths of the author’s imagination. She made it feel so easy and effortless, when it must have taken ages to piece all of it together.

The characters were as alive as the setting. First of all, I like that the members of the female population featured more prominently in this book than their male counterparts. I can see why its being called a feminist book. Its led by three strong women, each with their own distinct personalities, quirks, strengths and faults. One is a queen whose destiny is irrevocably tied to the fate of her country, another is a mage in hiding who’s been tasked to protect a queen. And the third? The third just wants to ride dragons.

Did i fail to mention there were dragons in this story?

They were such glorious, magnificent creatures in this book. You can tell how much enthusiasm Samantha Shannon had in writing them into the narrative, they totally stole each scene they were in. I loved how they were almost human in their portrayal, if that makes sense. Not only were they sentient beings they also had a a voice, a personality, and a sense of humour.

They were so involved in human lives that they even took part in war councils and contributed to political decisions. I know that having any sort of fire-breathing beings in your book will draw the inevitable comparison to Game of Thrones (intended to be a compliment I’m sure) but I think this book is a far cry from being any sort of imitation. I found it quite unique and original.

The story is rich and complex. A dynasty that was built on a lie is threatened by the arrival of an ancient enemy. Add to the mix some political machinations and betrayal, the formation and dissolution of alliances, and above all, the quest for the truth in order to keep a Queendom safe and what you have is a tale of epic proportions.

Despite the fantastical and magical elements though, this is a story that’s (strangely) very much grounded in reality. I certainly saw parallels with the current state of the world. Whether or not it was her intention, there were moments when the book felt like a social commentary on the times.

Finally, let me just say that its very rare to find a book that represents diversity in such an unobtrusive and casual way. For example, Samantha Shannon didn’t make a big fuss about the fact that several of her main characters have fluid sexual orientations, she simply made it the new normal. I think this book is a great testament to how evolved literature has become, and I’m glad that we’re at that stage where not only is everyone free to be who they are (and to love who they love), we’re also free to read and write all about it.

Don’t be put off by the weight of this book. Yes it felt like I could pound a nail through a two-by-four with it, and I gained biceps definition in the time it took me to walk home from the bookstore just by carrying it around. Its a hefty tome, but its worth it. Samantha Shannon has become one of the authors whose future works I will watch out for. The next time she publishes something, I’m going to hie myself off to my nearest Waterstones faster than you can say ‘Dracarys!’.

Amazing book! 4 out of 5 stars.