Right now, the world as we know it seems to be crumbling to dust at our feet. Many are overwhelmed by feelings of helplessness, lack of control and worry about the future. If I were the person I was a few years ago, I would probably be among those who can’t get out of bed right now. I would have gone into a deep depression and not known how to go on. Thankfully, I am not who I was and I am much better able to cope with what is happening in the world around me because I’ve learned some important truths. Although I know this situation we are living is beyond anything we know how to deal with from personal experience, I would like to share a few thoughts because there is always hope.
This pandemic does not have to destroy us or our way of life. Humanity has lived through plagues before and we’ve survived. Today, with modern medicine and science, with the ability to produce vaccines, we have resources at our command that our ancestors did not. We are far stronger, socially, than we were during the bubonic plague and we are faster to react than we were during the outbreak of Spanish flu. The internet and other technological advances mean we can go on even if we have to quarantine because there are still ways for us to make a living, which in the past were beyond even the scope of imagination. When you’re living off the land, your chances of survival are directly linked to being able to go out and work. Plagues affected that and many people suffered starvation during those times.
Chaos, although it may be unsettling and even terrifying, is also an opportunity. It is a time when change is possible. Chaos allows for big transformations. Yes, we are afraid. We’ve never done this particular change before, individually and collectively. But historically, we know we are capable of the change. The potential we humans live with is extraordinary. Most of us never tap into it, but if we can see the opportunity within this awful situation, if we can find the silver lining, we’ll breakthrough to a new, sunny day, more glorious than any we’ve known before.
Our human power to transform adversity into opportunity has proven itself time and time again. It is a capacity that has proven itself throughout history and in people from the most diverse backgrounds. A lot of it has to do with mindset. Are you geared to see what is good or what is bad? Do you look at what you can do or at what’s stopping you from doing anything?
I used to look to my circumstances to determine what was possible. That just meant my dreams were crushed because everywhere I looked there were obstacles I couldn’t surmount. There was always something in the way, that made everything I longed for impossible. I don’t know when the shift started happening within me, it was so subtle I hardly noticed it. There is also the fact that I began to remember things and I think that helped, too. As children, we are far less likely to allow our circumstances to stop us from achieving things. We lose that ability over time but sometimes a part of us remembers what we are capable of. To a certain extent, that is what happened to me a few years ago.
The shift I started experiencing within myself came with a series of coincidences that have brought me to where I am today and The Wishmaster Series is the culmination of all of this in my life. Before I get to that in detail though, I should probably go back to the beginning...
When I was twelve, I had an epiphany while reading a book. One thing led to another and I began writing a novel of my own. The deep, burning desire within me was to become a writer. I loved writing. It lit me up and made me feel alive. Time passed. High school happened and, at some point, this idea settled into my mind: writers are poor. They struggle to make a living. So in time, I chose to study something “reasonable” that would lead to “a good job”. Psychology proved to be so far removed from what I could stomach on a daily basis that I only finished the undergraduate degree. The whole subject irritated and depressed me.
Thankfully, I’d taken a few other courses during my undergraduate and one of those really stood out because I just kept acing it. Going with the flow, I continued with social anthropology even though I didn’t know what I was going to do with it afterward. Years passed. I was always able to get by, make things work, find something to do, but I didn’t get back to writing.
A little over a year ago, a further series of coincidences, including that I was on maternity leave, led me to a decision. If I didn’t take the step to at least publish what I’d already written, what was the point of even keeping those old manuscripts? I went ahead and published, which got me writing again and made me realize just how important writing is to me. It is my lifeblood. Here are some of my books - more information on Amazon.
I also decided to go with my gut feel and become a certified transformational life coach. This turns out to be my second passion which at the end of high school had been misguided into the idea of psychology. The thing is, yes, I love to listen to people and I love to help, but I don’t believe I or any “professional” has all the answers. Transformational life coaching follows the principle that the client is the person who will find their own solution. The coach is there to help them find their answers. That's me in a nutshell.
During my final certification training in September 2019, I had another epiphany, just as powerful as the one I had when I was twelve. The loose pieces of a puzzle I’d held in my mind for almost a decade suddenly came together into a coherent whole. The Wishmaster Series was born. I’d already had the idea for The Apprentice Storyteller (book 1 of the trilogy) a long time ago, but something was missing and I’d found that piece. Everything fell into place.
In November, I wrote the draft for the book during NaNoWriMo and I was astounded by how much came with it. A part of the original idea was based on a series of dreams I’d had and there was another coincidence because every one of those dreams was linked to an underlying principle in the life coaching course I’d trained to teach. It was an ah-ha moment of magnitude. Now, The Apprentice Storyteller is drafted along with a number of novellas in The Wordmage’s Tales which is a series to accompany the underlying message.
What is that message, you might ask?
1. The power within you is greater than any circumstance, situation or condition you may face
2. You can overcome any obstacle, no matter how great it might appear to be, as long as you believe in yourself
3. You are master of your own life and have the capacity to create anything you would love to experience
The Apprentice Storyteller follows Viola Alerion, a fifty-year-old traveling entertainer. Viola is an unhappy, grouchy woman who’s life has not turned out the way she wanted. Everything she’s tried has always backfired and she’s bitter, resentful and angry at life. She unexpectedly meets a teenage boy who insists on becoming her apprentice. In the end, the coincidence of their meeting proves a blessing to Viola and her life. Yes, she resists the message her apprentice brings to her and she fights her transformation every step of the way, but this is also an opportunity for my readers to see how they are capable of transforming and making the core principles of transformation a part of their lives and, in so doing, guarantee success in everything they do.
So, now you’re in this situation. You’re possibly sitting at home and don’t know what’s going to happen. You may have been laid off. You may be fearful of what the future holds.
Take a step back.
It’s okay to feel afraid in times of upheaval. We all know what’s happening is going to change lives. Are you going to let the change happen to you, or are you going to design it to suit you?
While you were fully immersed in your day-to-day, did you ever have a longing for something else, where “if only I had the time” was a key factor? Have you felt hollow even though you’ve always been busy and doing things, perhaps because you shelved a childhood dream as I did? Are you lost because the ground fell out from under your feet and you feel like you’re falling and there’s nothing to catch you?
You are not alone! Most of us are feeling this. But you can also turn the tables.
Things don’t have to happen to you.
You have the power and the freedom to choose your attitude.
Around eighty years ago, a man called Viktor Frankl sat in a Nazi death camp and did not die. His teachings in Man’s Search for Meaning are of utmost importance for all of us right now. The main point of his book:
No matter what is happening around you, you always have the freedom to choose your attitude.
Frankl’s work has been combined with other information from a whole range of traditions into the dreambuilder program which is the transformational life course I teach and what I’ve expounded on in The Apprentice Storyteller. If you are lost, confused or feel helpless and want to switch things around, there are options! If you feel it is time to turn the tables on your life and take the reins this is a good opportunity to do so.
My novel will be available soon. Of course, you can join my review team and get it sooner. You can also sign up for a free strategy session, a preliminary coaching call to help you see where you’re at and where you really want to be. You can read Man’s Search for Meaning or any of the other books that came out of Frankl’s school of psychology: logotherapy. My recommendations are Prisoners of Our Thoughts and 12 Rules for Life. You could immerse yourself in the Law of Attraction, most commonly known from The Secret, but also expounded on by many other authors.
Know this: the world is your oyster, you just have to crack it open. The tools are at your disposal, all you need to do is choose.
Astrid V.J. is an award-winning South African author, social anthropologist and transformational life coach. She started writing aged twelve. When she's not reading or writing, you'll find her playing crazy games with her two young children, doing crafts, playing music or taking a walk in the Swedish woods near where she lives.
Astrid writes transformation fiction: incorporating transformation principles in novels, rather than writing another self-help book. This is more than Up-lit. Her books are intended to be uplifting, but also to provoke thought and help people question the situations they find themselves in and to identify how they themselves can transcend their circumstances. She is interested in minority group questions, considerations on social standards of beauty and the negative consequences these have, and would like to make the fantasy genre accessible to people of non-white, non-Western backgrounds. She seeks to explore other paths on her writing journey, incorporating her backgrounds in anthropology and psychology to create engaging experiences which also provide food for thought on the diverse topics she finds most important, such as racism, minority rights, cultural diversity, culture change, intolerance, humanity’s environmental impact and much more.
Stay in contact with Astrid: