This Blog Has Moved

Hi everyone! This is a last reminder that this blog has moved to AttemptingAuthenticity.com. Please visit the new site and resubscribe there to keep receiving my posts. I will be clearing this blog soon but will keep this post up just in case.

Thanks!
Veronique (aka africanstardust)

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Moving On With Life (As in, This Blog)

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Hello everyone! It’s been grand ride here at The Masquerade. As I’ve mentioned, a lot of things are changing around here. One of them is that I’ve decided to move to using Bluehost and WordPress. What this means is that you will no longer be seeing posts here, through your reader or through your subscription to my blog. I’ve moved the whole spiel over to www.attemptingauthenticity.com, and will be blogging there from now on.

I started this blog not really knowing why – it was a little bit of writing, a little bit of complaining about school, and a lot of adjusting to moving back to South Africa. As more of you began to follow me I felt encouraged to write more and share more of my thoughts with you. It’s really quite amazing what blogging does, both for the blogger and the bloggee (if you will). You have helped to motivate and inspire me to set my words free, and I hope I’ve inspired you a little bit, too.

Not that anyone is dying haha. But if you would still like to be on this epic trip with me, please do subscribe at the new site. It looks pretty much the same, and it’s still me writing the posts, but it’s missing you! (I tried to make that line cheesier and I couldn’t. But it’s true.)

Thank you for all of your support, encouragement, and reading throughout the past few years. I’ll see you on the other side!

Veronique
aka africanstardust

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Passion

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It’s funny, as you’re growing up, how you jump from passion to passion. It’s like we know that we are created to feel passionate, to have passion, to live with passion, but because we’re not quite there yet we fill that space with different things. You sort of decide to feel strongly about something. And you see people around you living with so much passion that they are almost defined by it, and you have passion FOMO (fear of missing out).

But then when you get older, things come up on their own. And you start fighting for certain things, and speaking up about certain things, and suddenly passion starts to feel real. Suddenly, you understand why being passionate can drive a person to do anything, give up anything, go to any lengths, to see the thing they’re passionate about become real, or become free, or become better.

I’m passionate about God. I’m passionate about writing. I’m passionate about fantasy. I’m passionate about women who are downtrodden, and ending violence against women, and protecting children from the same thing. I’m passionate about language and about every person being able to read the Bible in their own heart language, because yes, it matters. And I didn’t go looking for any of the things I’m passionate about – that’s the funny part. I used to read fantasy as a kind of “this is cool, it has dragons” thing. I used to avoid the news so I didn’t hear about women being raped or abused or killed by husbands who apparently don’t have time to invest in a divorce. I used to argue with anyone who said I should write. I used to say the one thing I would never do is become a missionary. And I used to find God boring.

Our passions arise slowly, like a fairy emerging from a flower, like a baby being born, like a beautiful, unexpected summer morning after weeks of chilly spring. We don’t go looking for them; they find us. They are not man made or something we can control or make decisions about. And that is precisely why they are passions. While passion isn’t everything, and hard work plays an enormous role, I can guarantee you that you’ll work that much harder if you’re passionate about what you’re doing.

Passion: a strong and barely controllable emotion. An intense desire or enthusiasm for something.

What are you passionate about?

Categories: God, Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Fellowship of the Ring: Prologue and Chapter 1

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

- JRR Tolkien -

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Opening The Fellowship of the Ring is like seeing an old friend again after years and years. I know that’s cliche, but it’s true. And I’m not gonna lie (because, you know, attempting authenticity), I’m partly blogging through this epicness because I’m an adult and I feel guilty when I read for fun now…but this is for a blog, which as we all know is of the utmost importance, so that makes it okay! Okay.

Prologue: First of all, I’m normally a bad person and skip the Prologue in books, but in this case it’s definitely a good idea to read the Prologue. You’ll get such important information as “Concerning Hobbits” and “Concerning Pipeweed.” However, if you’re in a hurry to get to the story, at least read the fourth entry, “Of the Finding of the Ring.” It will give you context for the books you’re about to read, whether or not you’ve read The Hobbit (which is the sort of prequel to The Lord of the Rings).

Chapter 1: A Long Expected Party. Enter Bilbo Baggins for his 111th birthday! It’s now 60 years after his journey with the Dwarves. He’s kind of like that jolly old uncle who you know is rich but you’re not sure just how rich he is, and he’s super eccentric, and a lot of people pretend to like him because they want his money, but actually they just think he’s weird, and you really like him because he understands you and your sense of adventure.

And enter Gandalf! The Hobbits only know him as the old guy who has awesome fireworks, which suits him well, since he’s actually one of 5 powerful wizards who help watch over Middle-earth and guard against evil. And of course we have Frodo, who is Bilbo’s nephew and who lives with his uncle since his parents died when he was young.

At Bilbo’s birthday party, there is a huge amount of food, drink, and dancing (in proper Hobbit style) and also Gandalf’s incredible fireworks. Tolkien wrote a whole breathtaking paragraph about the fireworks. Read about the fireworks. Everything is lighthearted. Everything is fun. Bilbo gets up to give a speech and everyone is in a good mood and thinks he’s hilarious. But then the speech takes an odd turn – and suddenly he disappears. Only he and Gandalf know that he used his ring.

This is where Gandalf starts to get suspicious. He knows Bilbo has a magic ring, and he knows that magic rings aren’t common. He knows the little poem I included at the beginning of the post, and he also knows that the One Ring has been missing for over 2,000 years. Of course he can’t confirm anything, but he’s definitely not at ease about how obsessed with the ring Bilbo seems to be. And there is the matter of Bilbo not seeming to age much, which is another red flag (its previous known bearer, Gollum, from whom he got the ring, is over 500 years old).

We learn now that Bilbo wants to have one last grand adventure, and to finish the book he is writing about his adventurous life. He’s packing and nearly on his way out the door when Gandalf stops him and reminds him that he promised to leave the magic ring to Frodo. The conflict that occurs between them is so telling – the ring becomes its own character with its own dark presence. You get the sense that there is something very wrong here; why does Bilbo, a good-natured, easy going Hobbit, feel so strongly about a little gold ring that he even accuses his old friend of wanting to steal it? He also refers to the ring as his “precious”, which Gollum often called it, as well as other figures in history who definitely had the One Ring in their possession.

I personally felt relieved when Bilbo left it behind. Yeah, yeah, I know the story, but man! You feel how free and light he becomes once he gets rid of it. Interestingly, Gandalf refuses to even touch the ring, as if he doesn’t want to have even the possibility of being affected by it.

Poor Frodo finds his uncle gone, and has to deal with all the greedy relatives stealing silver spoons and what not. And enter Meriadock Brandybuck, also known as Merry, who is a clever but happy go lucky young Hobbit and one of Frodo’s close friends. He helps Frodo to ward off the crazies and get his house under control. In the midst of the humorous description of Frodo’s nasty relatives, the ring sits quietly in an envelope, and you kind of forget about it until Gandalf comes to visit after the chaos has settled.

“I have merely begun to wonder about the ring, especially since last night,” Gandalf tells Frodo. “No need to worry. But if you take my advice you will use it very seldom, or not at all. At least I beg you not to use it in any way that will cause talk or rouse suspicion. I say again: keep it safe, and keep it secret!” He then says that he is leaving and that he hopes to know more when he returns, but that he will be gone for a long time. As he leaves, Frodo notes that he looks bent over, as if carrying a great weight.

And that brings us to the end of Chapter 1. According to the poll in my last post, most of you are at least familiar with the movies, so I hope you’re enjoying this! One of you shattered my heart with your indifference, but you know, I probably don’t like your favorite book either, so there :D. If you’re reading along, I plan to only cover Chapter 2: The Shadow of the Past next week, because there is quite a lot of explanation of things that are crucial to understanding the story. That sentence made no sense, but I haven’t had coffee yet. Actually I have, but oh well. Come back next Monday for more LotR!

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Categories: Reading | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

You Are Beautiful: Part 1

Today I caught myself thinking, “I wish I was beautiful.”

But then I did something I would never have done in the past. I caught the thought and held it and looked at it, and then I sat down with myself.

“I am sorry,” I said, “for all the times I let you think that and didn’t object. I am sorry for all the times I allowed this thought, these words, to roll like a movie reel in your mind. That’s my bad.

“And I need to tell you the truth today, because this thought won’t go away. It’s a fact of life today, with all the movies and TV ads and magazines, blah blah blah. You’ve heard this before, but never from me. This thought will come again, and again, and again, and it will continue to assault you when you’re not feeling 100% – or even when you are.

“So I need to tell you the truth. ‘Beauty’ is totally skewed. They way you think of beauty is wrong. It’s defined by the world, and yeah, the world can be pretty convincing, but you have to have the real definition of beauty lodged in your mind. It doesn’t matter what you think guys are thinking when they see you. It doesn’t matter what you think girls are thinking. What matters is that you know, to the core of your being, that you’re beautiful.

“You’ve heard this before, but not from me. Beauty isn’t perfectly plucked eyebrows or long, shiny hair, or even the color of your eyes. Beauty isn’t tall or short or skinny or fat (or in between) or long fingers or short fingers. Yeah, that’s right, I’m telling you what you’ve heard from other people, but haven’t heard from me. Because there’s always the possibility that other people are being insincere, but I’m not. I’m you. I can’t be insincere with you. Duh, you’d know. So now you’re hearing it from me: beauty isn’t any of those things.

1497765_10202861333120050_251278528_n“This is what beauty is. Beauty is the innocence it takes to show the world who you really are. Beauty is you coming through your skin, your eyes, your mouth, your hair. Beauty is when you respect yourself and love yourself and then that love overflows to the people around you. Beauty is you embracing you and not restricting or constraining yourself anymore. Beauty is the opposite of fear, and fear can’t handle beauty because it’s so steadfast and so strong and so solid and immovable. Beauty is when you begin to realize the truth: that you, with all of your “flaws” (i.e. things the fashion people photoshop out of pictures to make you feel inferior) are unique, individual, human, striking, lovely.

“And I’m going to show you tough love. I’m not going to let you get away with thinking ever again ‘I wish I was beautiful.’ I’m not going to let you get away with thinking ‘I wish I looked like that’ or ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘no one will be able to love me.’ Every time you think that, whether it’s in the middle of a lecture, or in traffic, or at home at night in your bed, I will stop everything and sit down with you and tell you that the definition of the beauty you’re thinking of is the wrong one. And that you are beautiful, and that you don’t have to think these things ever again.”

And then I hugged myself, and the only regret I had is that I didn’t have this talk with me a long, long time ago.

Categories: Life, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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