18 Songs ‘Till Christmas and A Reminder to Be Human

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One story that will always stay with me is the way someone extraordinary, a person incredibly special to me, found out there was no Santa Clause when he was a child. His out of work parents couldn’t afford to buy their children any presents, so they simply told them the truth. It was the early ‘90s and a myriad of political, economic and social changes, as well as personal choices lead to that situation. But what difference do all those reasons make to a child?… In a different part of the same town, my family (or at least my grandparents) was undergoing its own decline, but our “bad” was nowhere near theirs and so many other families’. There was a Christmas tree in our home, beautiful gifts under it, and plenty of food for all of us – enough to spare, in fact…

Some 30 years later, many things are different in our little corner of the world. And yet, disturbingly many have remained the same. In November, about a month before Christmas, World Vision Romania’s heartbreaking statistics pointed out the sad truth yet again. In rural areas, 1 out of 2 families cannot afford to buy any gifts for their children; 1 parent out of 6 has less than the equivalent of 2€ to spend on children’s gifts, and 1 out of 3, less than 10€; 7 out of 10 parents would choose to offer necessary items like clothes, shoes or school supplies instead of something which would only provide joy to a child.

Outrage was, of course, the standard reaction. Doubt and disbelief followed – that can’t possibly be true, those number must be wrong (media outlets that hyped the news and created some confusion in the way they presented everything in order to make it sound more sensational didn’t help, of course). Then a different sort of outrage was unavoidable – outrage against a useless state, outrage against unfit parents or both. Then, as everything else, it faded away, and we – especially those of us inhabiting large urban areas, went on with our lives and our own compulsive Christmas shopping. After all, how can any of that be true, when shopping centres and stores of all sorts are filled with people and merchandise flies off the shelves this time of year?

I don’t know whether the numbers are right or not; but I believe they could be, and I know there’s lots of that going on in urban areas as well. I also know that there are unfit homes and families, and the state should and could do a lot more at least for the children living in that environment, if not for the adults as well. But how does it help a child to know that their misery is a corrupt state’s fault? And yes, a Christmas tree, a toy and/or a nice meal won’t change a child’s life; but is that to say they don’t even deserve to experience at least one moment of joy, of what life should be for all children?

Like I said, financially speaking things were not always great for my family when I was a child living with my grandparents. But there was always food on the table on Christmas, there was always a tree… And every year we stuck to our little tradition, my grandmother and I – we put together a bag of clothes, shoes, toys and school supplies that I no longer needed or had outgrown and took them to a certain family in my great-grandmother’s village. Was my grandmother doing it out of the goodness of her heart? Hell no, but that’s another story; and it made no difference to those children anyway.

That’s my whole point – if we can, we should do/donate a little something to help a needy child/family, regardless of why we do it. The numbers may not be the same everywhere, but there are people in need, no matter where we live. Is it guilt, generosity, desire to show off? Who cares, as long as that decent deed is done and an innocent soul can have at least one good day a year… because yes, one good day is better than no good day at all. And here’s the thing… even if we’re not exactly well-off, even if we do work incredibly hard for what we have, but are sitting in our cosy, perhaps nicely decorated homes, behind our computers/smartphones/tablets, our belies full and our bodies warm, then we surely can spare a little something for a starving freezing child…

Stay safe, everyone, be kind and share some of the joy!

20 Songs ‘Till Christmas

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I wanted to do a December Christmas song countdown ever since I started blogging. Ideally I would have paired the songs with holiday related memories, thoughts and opinions. Perhaps I would have added photos to reflect the festive – and sometimes not so festive – mood as well… But there was never enough time and/or determination.

Well, my blogging friends, this is probably the closest I’ll ever come to accomplishing that. I’ve already shared about my love-hate relationship with the holidays, as well as the reasons behind and it and how I managed to make peace with Christmas… and with myself, regarding Christmas. Hopefully I’ll manage to share some interesting memories and thoughts this year as well, but much like when it comes to the holidays in general, I tell myself, “no pressure”… But most importantly, no over the top expectations, from myself or from others. So there will be songs, there will be photos (most of them from previous years), and occasionally there will be stories as well. Continue reading “20 Songs ‘Till Christmas”

Much Needed Me-Days

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Just put on that new pair of boots you so wanted, and get out! Go, take a walk… take some photos… feed the ducks… smell the falling leaves and let the cool autumn sun touch your skin. Just take a break! Just stop overthinking. Stop overanalysing. Stop obsessing. Just relax. Just be. Spend some time with you, on you. The world won’t fall apart if you do.

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More often than not, that’s easier said than done. Continue reading “Much Needed Me-Days”

2020 Moments

Happy New Year, everyone! But is it, though? Has anything really changed overnight? For the better, I mean…

Much as I try, I cannot shake the feeling that we’re trying too hard to put 2020 behind us. I can certainly understand the need for a fresh start and the hope for a better future. I share them. What vexes me is the senseless desire to “forget”, as well as the strange belief that everything will not only change, but go back to the way it used to be “before”.

Forgetting means repeating the same mistakes over and over again. And… maybe I got something wrong… but wasn’t what we’d been doing “before” exactly what brought us where we are now, to this place we dread and desperately try to escape? I’m sorry, but I don’t think we learned our 2020 lessons… not all of them and not all of us, at least.

Right… deep breath… it’s neither the time nor the place for yet another rant, much as I feel like one. Instead, I’d rather thank our lovely Lens Artists hosts for keeping us together and helping us in our efforts to stay sane and creative in 2020 (Tina is hosting this week’s challenge – Favourite Images of 2020). Continue reading “2020 Moments”

Happy New Year!

I seem to be lacking words of wisdom right now… even traditional sweet clichés are somewhat difficult to string together, because the year that just came to an end was anything but typical. So I’m only going to say this… if we can’t find it in ourselves to do anything for others, to accept we are part of society (whether we like it or not), at least let’s make our own lives easier and better by thinking of the bigger picture. For once, the common good is undeniably our own personal gain as well.

A happy, healthy, and if possible sane and fulfilling New Year to all of you and your loved ones! Stay safe by keeping others safe too!

The Nature of Summer #5

Am I the only one who sees a stylized Christmas tree there? Hmm… might be the excessive heat this week making me hallucinate while craving slightly cooler temperatures, even if not exactly the winter chill. 😀

Road or no Road… Congratulations, Lens-Artists!

One person’s smooth road, another person’s torment… Considering everything that’s been going on in the world recently, this may very well sum up the confluence of events, I believe. Knowing what awaits behind the corner is one thing, following the right path is another… and discerning that right path – any path –and transforming it into a traveled road is yet another. Continue reading “Road or no Road… Congratulations, Lens-Artists!”

June News and See You on Twitter

I’ve set myself a small blogging goal for this first month of summer. I’m not much of a review writer – in fact, I thoroughly avoid it – but I do want to share a few thoughts about two or three books I read recently.

As a self-published writer, I know how much reviews matter to indie authors. Yet, I must admit, I’m still uncomfortable reviewing other people’s books. Just because I like or dislike something, that doesn’t mean, everyone has to feel the same, I keep reminding myself. I also need to remind myself that a review and literary analysis are two very different animals, so I don’t fall into old habits. But once in a while, especially when it comes to fellow bloggers whose writing I appreciate, I can’t help talking about their books. So I hope you enjoy their works as much as I did, should you decide to give them a try.

On a different note… Yes, my friends, I finally went and did it. Yours not-so-crazy-about-social-media truly has joined Twitter – @AnaLindenAuthor ! I still have mixed feelings about the event, but I’m giving it a try. So be patient with me and if you also have a Twitter account, let me know and maybe I’ll see you there as well.

It’s Still Spring… Even at Home #20

A spring so many of us felt we’ve been robbed of is coming to an end… A most unusual spring… A spring of fear, loss and uncertainty… A spring of unexpected, sometimes unwanted realizations… Perhaps a spring of gratitude too – gratitude for what we do have… Perhaps also a spring of generosity and self-sacrifice, so others could be safe, alive… A spring of learning, even if the truths learnt may have been painful ones… A spring like no other. Continue reading “It’s Still Spring… Even at Home #20”

“Frames” – How It Came to Be

I had been looking forward to that getaway for months – a trip I wasn’t sure would materialize – and as I was driving that early morning, it was finally beginning to feel real. It was real. That patch of beautiful wild flowers featured in my title story, Frames… well, it was also real. Everything else is fiction, but the flowers were real, an out of place wonder covering a mound of dirt in an otherwise prosaic field by the freeway.

Some images stay with you… their impact makes you want to find out the story behind them or at least create one such story. By the time I reached my destination, a rough outline of a nameless story had already taken shape in my mind. But I had recently finished Albatross and needed a bit of a writing break, so I knew it was a story for another time.

A shot would easily take that patch of flowers out of its natural context and create an entirely different reality for the unknowing observer in another context. It could suddenly be a dreamy field of wild flowers instead of some wild flowers on top of dirt by the freeway. Reality reframed or just one frame of a bigger, more complex reality? The answer is a personal subjective choice.

Coincidentally, I took some poppy shots the other day. What an unexpected find, I thought to myself, blooming poppies in the wind, with the beach, a calm sea and a blue sky on the background. Some of you also liked the one I already posted. All sorts of positive words come to mind when thinking of those shots, especially considering the recent lockdown months. But… but what you don’t see in any of those photos, what I carefully avoided to include in any of those frames is the large pile of rubbish only a few steps away from those beautiful flowers. Thinking back, perhaps I should have included it, but I was too taken by the angle excluding it.

My point is, we go about doing this in many, if not all, aspects of our lives. We like to think we see the full picture, we have the full truth, when in fact we only have instances, a few frames on which we choose or are forced to build our judgement, conclusions and decisions. Sometimes we get it right, even by mistake… other times we ignore the background, we find a way to exclude the ugliness from the picture in order not to have to deal with it.

The same happens to my characters. They’re neither picture-perfect, nor horrid, but they might appear to be either one or the other, depending on the moment one interacts with them. But once the angle becomes wider and the background less blurry, does their behaviour become understandable and acceptable? That, too, is a personal, subjective choice…

It’s Still Spring… Even at Home #6

It’s time I resorted to those photos taken at the beginning of March, right before lockdown. I was so sure I’d have the chance to shoot many more blossoms and spring flowers, but as we all know, life went in a different direction.

Little did I know when taking this shot that we’d be confined to our homes only days later. I didn’t get to see the trees in full bloom in my favourite park this spring, but I take solace in the fact that at least I had a chance to enjoy the more precocious ones. Of course, at the time I took the sight for granted and spent too much time distracted by the chill in the air and the wind which made it difficult to get decent shots. I’m sure there’s a lesson in there, somewhere….

Stay safe, everyone!

It’s Still Spring… Even at Home #2

From freezing days to balmy ones, from winter coats to T-shirts, from grey barren trees and gardens to blossoming trees, blooming flowers, green leaves and fields, spring has come and is now w about to start fading into early summer… And most of us feel like we’ve missed it, been robbed and in the transition process from one “normal” to another, we’ve lost not only a season, but a lifestyle, a familiar world.

Continue reading “It’s Still Spring… Even at Home #2”

It’s Still Spring… Even at Home

What’s the point in mincing words? I might as well admit it, the new normal has turned me into a voyeur… No bird outside my window is safe these days, their privacy – much like our freedom of movement – is a thing of the past. I’ve already given up on keeping up appearances, thus I no longer put away that telephoto lens; nor do I care what people from nearby buildings think if they see me… during a spying/photo session of their own. Continue reading “It’s Still Spring… Even at Home”

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday #93

Almost a year ago, pleasantly surprised to find this empty street while I was away on a short trip, I thought to myself, “How wonderful…” It was so peaceful, so relaxing… I doubt I would feel the same, if I were to revisit the empty street today, under current circumstances. Careful what you wish for…

Strange Order in Chaos

One of the annoying things my grandmother used to do when I was a child was tidy up my desk. It was a mess, she would say, and few people who know me would now believe that… because I am a bit of a neat freak. In fact, it wasn’t as messy as she made it sound, it simply wasn’t her kind of order. I knew where everything was and I had a system. She had a system too, everything had to be put away. I completely agree with that now… as long as you have a place to store everything. But pilling everything in a heap behind the desk just so it could be out of sight didn’t help me much. Continue reading “Strange Order in Chaos”

That Mandatory Coronavirus Post – My Two Cents and the Ugliness in Us

I would like to preface this by reminding everybody that I am not a doctor or in any way part of the medical system. So this is purely an opinion piece from one EU citizen living in a country starting to be affected by this virus, with close relatives in other countries where the situation is worse.

I wouldn’t write about this, I initially told myself; I would follow my “no politics, no religion etc.” rule, as I always intended my blog to be a feel-good place, an escape. Even when I do broach more controversial topics, I try to do it delicately, which doesn’t come easily, because I am an opinionated person. But since this is an unusual situation, I’m suspending that rule. Continue reading “That Mandatory Coronavirus Post – My Two Cents and the Ugliness in Us”

Birds #1

I’ve been waiting… and waiting… and waiting… but snow – fluffy, thick, magical snow – refused to make an appearance this winter. I was hoping I could get some of those winter wonderland shots and create a seasonal series, but Mother Nature is throwing tantrums left and right… not that we can blame her, considering our behaviour. It did snow once in my neck of the woods, last week, and my hope was revived for a minute or two, but let’s just say that the white dreamy scenery was not in the cards. Continue reading “Birds #1”

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Robert Burns wrote to a friend:

“I myself can affirm, both from bachelor and wedlock experience, that Love is the Alpha and the Omega of human enjoyment. All the pleasures, all the happiness of my humble Compeers, flow immediately from this delicious source. It is the spark of celestial fire which lights up the wintry hut of Poverty, and makes the chearless mansion, warm, comfortable and gay.”

Continue reading “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

Roadblocks and Leading Lines

This particular January turned out to supply a few more “roadblocks” than expected – literally and metaphorically. From what I’ve seen and heard, I’m certainly not the only one in this situation. No one enjoys being stuck, so we keep looking for detours and escapeways. Whether these paths turn out to be scenic routes or accidents waiting to happen is merely a matter of luck and perspective. Continue reading “Roadblocks and Leading Lines”

One of Those Places

I stopped the car by the lake and braved the cold wind in order to take a few more shots of the setting sun. We all have these places we frequent, special spots where the view, the context or the history speak louder to us than in many other similar corners. We unconsciously find our way there when we need them, perhaps we get out of our cars and take a few more shots, very similar to the selection those particular places have already offered us on so many other occasions. Continue reading “One of Those Places”

December Gifts

A blogging anniversary notification from WP, that’s yet another sign that Christmas and the end of the year are near. It’s been six years, apparently… six years which passed too fast. But thank you for sharing this time with me, for letting me be a part of your lives and for teaching me so much about appreciation and kindness simply by opening up and telling your stories.

My small thank-you gift to you is the same as every year since I started this blogging journey – electronic stocking stuffers, my ebooks. If you enjoyed the Albatross fragments I’ve shared with you, then you should take advantage of the Amazon giveaway and download it / offer it for free starting today, until December 23rd.

If you’d rather have a copy of Parallel Lives or Glass Slippers and Stilettos or perhaps you would like to offer them to someone who might enjoy them, use any of the following links:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/396169

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/ana+linden?_requestid=538455

https://www.kobo.com/ww/en/search?query=Ana%20Linden&fcsearchfield=Author

…and on iBooks, of course.

Feel free to download as many copies as you like!

Happy reading and Happy Holidays!

My December Survival Kit – Part 2

Part 1

Good routine

After all those hectic holidays, you have no idea how much I appreciate a fairly predictable December, ruled by my own festive routine. I used to believe that routine would be the death of my spirit. Now I welcome predictability as the unexpected antidote to maddening, unexpected December drama. If routine means boredom, but it also means no hysteria, emotional blackmail, manipulation or drama of any kind, then by all means, I’m good with being blissfully bored. Continue reading “My December Survival Kit – Part 2”

My December Survival Kit

A particular scene from Ally Mcbeal keeps popping into my mind these days – must be the season… For those of you who don’t remember/know, Ally Mcbeal was a somewhat atypical lawyer show in the late ‘90s. I remember liking it back then just about as much as I liked SATC, although they were very different (some magazine articles insisted on the fact that a girl had to choose between the two shows, but I just didn’t see it that way). Continue reading “My December Survival Kit”

No Trendy Christmas Tree For Me, Santa (Part 2)

Part 1

Now I have my own ornaments and stories to go with them. I somehow managed to hold on to a box of four glass baubles I got at some point in middle school, while shopping for Christmas presents with my best friend at the time. I can just see the store and how we went in looking for something entirely different. I spent a hefty part of my savings on these ornaments and a similar set that I offered my grandmother that Christmas (one of the very few presents she actually liked). They’ve miraculously survived the years and journeys and they went on every tree I’ve had ever since, even when they didn’t match the general colour scheme. Continue reading “No Trendy Christmas Tree For Me, Santa (Part 2)”

No Trendy Christmas Tree For Me, Santa

Note – I wrote this piece a year ago, so that is why some of you might get a slight déjà vu feeling. But I want to share it again; I usually get somewhat nostalgic in December, and this is a small part of my personal story and the way I perceive the holiday season and it’s trappings. 

She frowned and immediately dismissed the idea of a Christmas tree.

“I’ll get one when I can afford to decorate it properly,” she concluded, “not with all that cheap tacky stuff.”

Oh… I couldn’t help feeling my friend’s not at all veiled dig at me. So my Christmas tree was cheap… and tacky. Well, I could certainly give her “cheap”. Continue reading “No Trendy Christmas Tree For Me, Santa”

Abstract (or) Failure

There is no age limit when it comes to learning something new. In fact, it keeps the mind young and agile. Just like back in the day, the process implies mistakes; we stumble, we get frustrated, and eventually we experience that rush which comes with every sign of improvement. Hopefully we manage to persevere until those signs become obvious. Hopefully we don’t lose patience with ourselves. Hopefully we don’t let frustration, disappointment and criticism get the better of us. Hopefully… we have the time, strength and discipline to hope. Continue reading “Abstract (or) Failure”

“Worn Out” Series

I had this blogging project in mind, the Worn Out series. As it unfolded, I was happy to notice that many of you were enjoying it and I am very grateful for your support and encouraging comments. Now the time has come to take a break from this photo series, I don’t want to overdo it. However, I plan on adding to it whenever I find fitting images, old places that speak to me, the way the ones I’ve shown have. Continue reading ““Worn Out” Series”

Angles Of Our Own Selves

Note: Not only did Ann-Christine’s topic for this week (Lens Artists Weekly Challenge – Angles) push me to write a new post, but it also reminded me of something I’ve posted a few years ago. Since it still resonates, I’ll share this once more. In case you’ve already read it, I apologize 🙂 .

A radical change in perspective is never easy. Altering that already instinctive angle – be it broad or narrow – from which we regard life is a challenge, to say the least. As a person with somewhat twisted values and ideas (in certain respects), yet who is so stubborn that she hardly ever changes her opinions, I am also aware of the ineffable necessity of never forgetting to keep an open mind, especially when having to reach various conclusions. That’s why I normally perceive the idea of changing my perspective as a positive endeavour.

Continue reading “Angles Of Our Own Selves”

Angles Of The China Pattern

I would have smiled at the sight of that coffee cup, had I not been so displeased to find myself there. I was invited to have a seat at the dining room table and I was flanked by the two of them, one on each side. My eyes wondered around the room I had known my entire life, a room which was unchanged, a room which didn’t feel familiar at all. I wasn’t saying anything. Neither was she, but I knew that look, that fidgety stance, when she just waited for a person’s first sentence in order to pounce on them with all sorts of accusations. Continue reading “Angles Of The China Pattern”

Worn Out #1

One of my travel goals for this year was to pay more attention to my surroundings on my way to somewhere else. I did have something specific in mind…

Old buildings and ruins have always made me pause and contemplate, but for a while now I’ve been drawn to old rural establishments and the way they’ve fallen into disrepair/disgrace. I used to pay little attention when driving through villages – they may not all be the same, but so many of them are very similar, especially if they’re in the same region.

Continue reading “Worn Out #1”

Moments of Serenity

If I were to choose a favourite month, June would probably be it. There is something about this month… Good things have happened to me in June, it often marked the beginning of beautiful stories, and it always filled me with energy and hope. It’s that time of year when everything feels possible.

By mid-June this year however, all I wanted to do was get away. Continue reading “Moments of Serenity”

“When We See A Tree, We Celebrate It!”

I’m not sure what exactly in our conversation prompted her statement. I do remember we were both in primary school at the time, so she no longer lived in our building, even if she was visiting her grandmother a lot. I had a vague idea about the part of town where she and her parents lived – it was the kind of area you went through on your way to somewhere else. To me, she was the same girl I knew for as long as I could remember. We were the same age and as close as children who start developing memories and ideas while growing together can be, and that was the only reason why I was still allowed to play with her. Continue reading ““When We See A Tree, We Celebrate It!””

Delicate

I could say I was in the park looking for some beautiful flowers to photograph. After all, I do believe there is something very special about their delicate appearance, making them a good choice for Ann-Christine’s challenge. In spite of looking so delicate, flowers are often surprisingly resilient. No, I wasn’t going to overthink this. Continue reading “Delicate”

Happy Women’s Day, Ladies!

Find beauty within you and allow others to see it. Discover your worth, always treasure and respect yourselves. Love who you are, but never give up on self-improvement. Learn to accept and offer love and support, to others and to yourselves. Follow your dreams, but don’t dismiss reality. Live a life that is sincere celebration of your being and of those who improve your existence. Learn from your mistakes and treasure those lessons as painful, yet valuable steps towards a better place. Be glorious, be generous, be strong! Last, but not least, don’t forget to appreciate those wonderful men who enrich our lives!

Happy Women’s Day, ladies! Celebrate yourselves and let yourselves be celebrated!

Nature


I didn’t know I knew nature. I was just a child and I had this distorted idea that nature was supposed to be something so extraordinary, that mere mortals had no access to it. Well… I did get the “extraordinary” part right, as it turns out; but I had yet to learn about understated beauty and about patiently waiting to reveal itself. Nature’s beauty can often be striking, but that’s not the rule…

Continue reading “Nature”

Valentine’s Day, Again…

I was about to look for one of my favourite rose photos, as I do for every Valentine’s Day post. Then I remembered this display I saw last year on a street in Germany…

It was impossible to walk by and not notice it, it was just so…. so… too much. I wanted to laugh and whisper something snarky in my friend’s ear. Instead I mustered a serious look, as a pair of eyes was sizing me up, trying to determine whether I was a potential customer or not.
Continue reading “Valentine’s Day, Again…”