Saturday, 9 December 2017

My Year in Books: The books that challenged my emotions, took me places and kept me company in 2017




As the year draws to a close, I've decided to give you a list of the books that I enjoyed reading throughout the months. The list is not exhaustive, but I picked the ones that struck a chord with me and left a lasting impression. Before we get to that, let me go off on a tangent and tell you how I came up with this list.

How I select books to read.
When they tell you, a book is judged by its cover, believe them. The first thing I do upon entering a bookshop is to walk over to the shelves marked according to genre and scan for the covers that catch my eye, assuming I have not predetermined the novel I want to read. Call me superficial, but jackets have a knack for drawing me in. For me, less is more. I like to be intrigued. Challenged. Give me a puzzle that I can put together as I explore the story.




Once I spot the one, I zoom in on the title, flip the book over and read the blurb. It is true what they say about the hook. I’m always looking for that thing that arouses my curiosity and piques my interest. The promise of what I will discover inside.
  
Reviews make or break an author. You better believe it. Some reviewers do know how to spoil it for everybody. Some are fair, some, well, damn right obnoxious. I am sympathetic when it comes to reviews because I know how it feels to be told your writing is a dud. 

I am also influenced by the author’s use of language. I like to pore over a few random pages to gauge the author's writing style. To see if their voice speaks to me. I love books that are simple and yet sophisticated. I don't want the kind of distraction that comes with trying to decipher what the author is saying (Ernest Hemmingway will be spinning in his grave). Just write what you mean, and I will thank you for it. 

Then there is word of mouth. That book on everyone’s lips. The hype on social media, radio and television. All these channels guide me to my next read.


Below is a list of the books I devoured this year, numbered according to how I rate them. I am drawn to stories that challenge my emotions. I am a sucker for love. I also love a good murder and a cry. Also, stories that make me want to explore what I thought I knew already. Stories that make me uncomfortable and enable me to view the world from a different perspective. Sometimes I crave for tales that inject in me, some degree of nostalgia.
  
1. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Recommended by my daughter, this novel had me at ‘nurse’. Where do I even begin? Critics refer to it as the To Kill a Mocking Bird of the 21st century. I agree 100 %. The story about a nurse (midwife to be exact) who could not carry out her sacred duties due to prejudice. Imagine wanting to save a child but you couldn’t because you are not allowed by the parents of that child. The nurse's only 'sin' is that she is black! The story is so emotional I read it with tears rolling down my cheeks. I am a nurse, so you can imagine my horror. The author, though white, did her research well. The way she addresses black people issues, her use of language. It was as if I was reading a book written by a black person. Some may feel such a story should have been written by a black person. I beg to differ. I have no doubt Jodi wrote the story that chose her. The author finishes by giving a heartrending commentary about race and our society today which meant more tears for me. I was emotionally exhausted by the time I finished reading Small Great Things. 

2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.
This is the story that had me at the edge of my seat. Quite a thriller. The suspense in this story, how twisted things get, is what keeps you flicking through the pages. A woman vanishes, and the husband’s life spirals out of control. Throughout the novel which is told in diary form, we are left wondering if it really is Amy playing mind tricks on her husband. It appears she is, but why? How? At one point, I thought Nick Dunne was the one framing his own wife. Again, it’s about relationships. In this instance, marriage. How certain things we do and say affect our partner. Beware. You have been warned. Gone Girl is what I call a What the heck kinda story.

3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
A great read, but not for the faint-hearted. There are challenging themes and some PI words. The storyteller is inquisitive. She is one of the Finch children who is intrigued by a strange man who lives next door. Then there is Atticus, the lawyer who faces the onerous task of defending an innocent ‘nigga’ in court. Because of this, he is dubbed a Nigga Lover. You can't help but feel for Atticus, and for Tom Robinson, of course. He has been wrongly accused after all. A great read, but difficult to swallow. The author shows a great deal of courage in telling her story, and I am not surprised it took Harper Lee a while for her book see the light of day. 

4. Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo
Another gripping, emotional read. A story about marriage. Love and lies. There is a lot of pain in this book. But then again many great books draw from pain, tragedy and deceit. A lot draw from the African experience. The desperation that comes with wanting a child. The need to uphold certain expectations and sacrificing one's happiness along the way. Everyone is talking about this book, so, I had to discover for myself. I’m glad I did. 

5. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
I saw this on my Twitter timeline and found myself on Amazon clicking buy. This is a story of slavery. Of broken relationships. Societal prejudices. And more. A simple read. Fast-paced and the author seems to cram a few generations into one book. An emotional read I find, but then again, who isn’t touched by the evil of slavery. I have to say though that the ending was rather abrupt for me. I was left wanting more, hoping for more. I needed more closure, perhaps. Oh, well. *sighs* 

6. The Power by Naomi Alderman
I stumbled upon this title when I searched best sellers on Amazon. Men are in trouble and guess who the troublemakers are. Women. You guessed right. They have mysterious powers that kill men and boys, and it is scaring the living daylights out of them. A certain reporter is on the case. There is some weird shite going on in this book one has no choice but to discover how it all ends. Loved it.
  
7. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
I could identify with most themes in this book. The hope that all economic migrants carry when they move to another country. The disappointments they face when they realise that it’s not what it’s cracked up to be. In the end, most long for home. Home is where the heart is. The immigrant realises that they do not have to be scared to return home. That if they try hard enough, they can dream again and make it in their own country. The main character in this book does just that. They go back home, eventually, after years of trying to make it in America. I wanted the protagonists to dream big. To have more ambition. To swing for the fence. I wanted more conflict. Stakes to rise a little higher. I craved for more drama. 

8. Under the Udala Trees by Chimelo Okparanta
It is possible this book would have found its way into my hands eventually had a friend not recommended it to me. A story about two girls who fall for each other. Unheard of during the time and place the author describes. I managed to finish the book as it addresses some real issues in our society today. Mother-daughter relationships, sexuality, sacrifice, religion and love. I am always drawn to themes that tug at my emotions. I learnt that in the end, you can’t sacrifice your happiness or change who you are to please others. You will regret, and it will haunt you until you develop the courage and resilience to go after what you want.

9. Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan
I found this book, again, when I searched for best selling novels. Read the blurb, and I was hooked. A heart-warming story about lost objects that need rescuing. Each object has a story behind it. Interesting read. Kept me going as I wanted to know if the storyteller fulfilled her promise to return the lost things to their rightful owners. 

10. The Letter by Kathryn Hughes
A story about an abusive husband. About a letter that lost its way and was found years later. Love. A light read. One of those books I read when I need something to lighten my mood. Perhaps one cliché too many for me. But then again, some readers thrive on those. Just goes to show, the book business is subjective.

11. Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Another literary champion. A story about the experience of interracial couples. The relationship between two girls who come from different backgrounds and who view the world through different eyes. The author gives a realistic portrayal of Britain as a society. There are some lighter moments, but overall, I found the story somewhat depressing. Rather grim. I tend to navigate towards hope. But Zadie is undoubtedly a great literary writer. 

12. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
You may be surprised I had not read this classic yet. Well, it was always at the back of my mind, and I kept putting it off for other reads. Eventually, I came around and read the novel. The author’s use of language is embellished, of course, but not in a discombobulating way. The author explores the society of the wealthy. Philandering husbands. Dreams. Tragedy. Love and complexities of relationships.
  

Besides the books I've listed above, I read I See You by Clare Mackintosh, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Together by Julie Cohen and the short story The Arrangements and the novella Dear Ijeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. 

If one of your favourites is not on my list, why don't you pick a title from my list and give it a try? You never know, it may be the book that opens your eyes and grows you. 

Happy Holidays! 

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

My Reaction to Mugabe Resigning....In The Newspapers

A coup that's not a coup. 

Zimbabweans demand Mugabe's resignation.

On the 21st of November 2017, Robert Mugabe resigned as the President of Zimbabwe following an unprecedented military intervention and intense pressure from the people of Zimbabwe. I exhaled with relief, but Mugabe's departure left me feeling cheated and heartbroken. Click the link below to find out why.

Click link to read the full article


Sunday, 19 November 2017

Let's Talk Writing, Agents and Publishing




                    Click to watch the video from the Festival of Writing 2017

It has been a while since I attended the York Festival of Writing in September 2017, but the memories are still fresh in my mind. The last September event was not my first. The first time I attended the Festival, I found myself very much out of my depth. Intimidated by the great minds floating around me. Still, I stayed the course and did what I had come to do. The experience opened my mind, and I took away a lot with me. Since then, there have been other events. For example, The Barelit Festival which I found inspirational and another eye-opener.

During the last event, I felt more prepared. Knew what to expect and felt determined to make the most of it. I met with agents who are the gatekeepers of the publishing industry. Met other authors in the same situation as me. We exchanged ideas, shared writing experiences and encouraged one another. I left the cold but peaceful York feeling more energised, motivated, determined and inspired. The highlight was listening and reading the positive and encouraging agents' feedback. 

I had submitted the first chapters of the manuscript I had been working on for the last eighteen months to two years to the agents for them to read in advance. Accompanied by the chapters was my query letter. Simply put, the query letter is the pitch of one's book (manuscript). In the query letter, the writer gives a concise description of their book, selling their idea and themselves as an author, to an agent. Also in this query letter, one needs to have a clear hook for their novel. The hook then develops into an elevator pitch which is a summation of the whole story in one or two sentences leaving out the boring bits! The elevator pitch expands into the query letter. Part of the query, the bit that talks about the book, will become the book blurb. Besides the query letter or cover letter, one then weaves the synopsis of the book which is a detailed summary in which you spill the beans of your plot. Confused yet?! Well, these are some of the few things a writer needs to grasp.

It has to be said that the traditional route to becoming a published author is not the only option. I self-published my first book A Life Steered, and I found the process satisfying. I’ve had positive reviews too. The reasons for choosing any given route are personal and valid. But for a writer to even begin to think about publishing or going through all that I've outlined above, one needs to write a brilliant book first. That is crucial. 

I have matured in the way I understand writing, and I continue to develop. A few things have become clear to me - if you want to be taken seriously as a writer, you cannot rush the process. You cannot give up. You should not be solely driven by what you think your readers expect you to write about, by money, neither should that determine or decide your narrative. Write what you want to write and from the heart. Write because you love to write. There will always be readers out there who will connect with your writing. What matters is that your writing comes from a genuine, heartfelt and inspired place. There will be agents, publishers who will appreciate your work and want to work with you. Those who will embrace your passion, ideas, style and want to sell your work. Learn to accept criticism and embrace rejection. Read, read, read, and keep honing your craft. We live in the 21st century, and we have options now. Different formats to suit our preferences and inclinations. Just make 'shite' happen. You are the master of your writing career. 

During the festival, I met bestselling authors who spent years in what I call doldrums. They dealt with rejection and chose not to give up. They persevered, exercised resilience and patience, believed in themselves and their writing. Now they get to reap the rewards.

So, to those who keep asking 'When is the book coming out?', the answer is 'It will come out when it comes out.' I have completed two manuscripts in the last three years, which makes me very proud, and I will not rest until my two babies find a home. 

Take care!


Saturday, 12 November 2016

Social Media And Me: Branding And More....


Social media is excellent for business. And for burgeoning authors too. I remember a time when I swore I would rather chew my leg than be seen on Facebook and Twitter. Today, here I am blogging, tweeting and Facebooking my heart out. It is because I have realised that the world has changed, and it will continue to do so. Technology is here to stay, and the sooner I embrace it, the better for my writing career.

Not every writer is into tweeting and Facebooking. However, one cannot ignore the fact that social media now plays a significant role in the world of writing. For some writers, it means the difference between failing and succeeding. Most reading materials are now readily accessible online. It is easy for one to reach many readers in an instant and all it takes is just a click of the button. To turn a blind eye to this truth is utter naivety. And, it is for these reasons that I reckon it does not hurt to be flexible in our approach.

Social media has its downfall. We are a gregarious society and with that comes the desire to be loved. To be embraced and accepted by our audience. There are those who will profess not care in the slightest. I am sorry, but one must be made of stone not to give a damn. The truth of the matter is, everybody cares how others perceive us. It’s human nature. We are bound to feel a sting in the chest if someone or a group of people whose opinion matter to us do not acknowledge our existence. A family member, a friend, a church member, a colleague, a customer or indeed fans. We care.

Also in the world of social media, it is not enough to just toss your product into the world and hope people buy it. You cannot just run a business campaign and think that is enough. One must go a step further to succeed. Everyone is talking about brands nowadays. The brand equals who you are and what you represent. The world wants to know that. Build a reputation, cultivate trust and form relationships with potential customers. Customers will need to decide if your brand is something they wish to align themselves with. Once they know and decide, results start to show.

If you’re an author, this means having to show what you write about. Demonstrating what readers can expect when they buy your books. Can a writer not explore various forms of writing? Experiment? Can’t they just go where inspiration takes them? Why the need to brand? Align oneself with a concept?

Whether we are aware of it or not, we are always branding ourselves anyway. Every individual is inclined to certain things. Subscribes to a specific school of thought. Believes in different things from the next person. Prefers to post certain things on social media and not others. Choice of words, inclinations towards certain genres, our passion. If that’s not branding, I don’t know what is.

 As a writer, I hone my craft daily. I continue to explore and grow in different ways. I am still digging deep and discovering who I am as an individual. I am also considering how I want the world to perceive me as a writer. What I represent. What I am about as an author.

I know the kind of message I want to send out into the world. I want to spread love and light being part of it. But, this process is not without some disastrous consequences. I have noticed that there is a real danger to lose ourselves in the process as we often get caught up in the idea of selling and end up selling our souls to the Devil. We gloss ourselves up as we pander to the society’s expectations. We throw away our values, compromise specific standards and sacrifice our dignity to please the customer. Nothing at all wrong with wanting to satisfy that all-important customer. After all, that is why we do what we do, right? But at what cost?

Social media, as I have discovered, can be the making of us, but it can also destroy us and change us in so many ways. When we sell a product or indeed a piece of writing, it is not at all uncommon to give into the temptation of wanting to hide our true feelings and values. We may even change our words and rein in on our imagination and creativity for fear of being judged and rejected. When this happens, we present a fake persona, a packaged image which we feel will appeal to our potential customers and those watching.

I recently joined Instagram where every photograph is the picture of perfection. Facebook and Twitter too. We often select the best image of ourselves and indeed enhance it, with the help of apps, to present the best possible image to the world. Our lives, as far as social media is concerned, are always perfect. We are forever smiling, checking into fabulous places, jetting around the world and everything is splendid. Very few will dare reveal the not so appealing part of their lives, and I can appreciate why. Studies have demonstrated how social media has and is playing a role in mental health problems such as depression, stress and anxiety. People are made to feel inadequate by comparing their lives to the illusions that they see on social media, and I think this is tragic.

Back to authoring, I am reminded of a time when a friend suggested that I was better off using a different name to sell more books. A name which was more comfortable to pronounce, perhaps which appealed to a kind of reader. Well, excuse me! I like my name just the way it is, thanks. If a reader chooses not to pick my book because of the name on the cover, then it is their loss. I genuinely believe that if it is my destiny to succeed as a writer, then I will realise my goals despite what my name looks or sounds like period. Changing my name or persona to pander to a specific group of people is not going to make me a better writer by any means. It is only going to suffocate me and thwart my real potential as a writer, for no one looks like me, writes like me, thinks like me and is me. I am my own person, and the world will just have to deal with that!

There are those who will tell you not to show the world what you believe. Your faith, spirituality, because not everybody goes to church or believes in what you believe. They will advise you always to be ‘politically correct’ as not all your customers or readers will believe in what you believe. But, isn’t that defeating the whole purpose of branding? Can we ever appeal to everyone? I think not.
I understand it is just business. I get it. Image and likeability are everything, but wouldn’t you rather be liked for being your true self, and acquire genuine followers than disappoint them when the real you surface? Isn’t it better and more satisfying to be admired for who you really are than spend a lifetime pretending to be something you are not? Because you cannot keep the charade forever and forever is too long a time to be suffocated.

How many people have been disappointed after meeting their crush for the first time and discovering that they look different from how they appeared on social media? How many fans have had their hearts broken when they found that their icon was leading a double life? How many celebrities that we loved and admired have committed suicide because they were tired of pretending to the world that they had everything under control? Their bodies got tired of eating relying on drugs just to please you the customer. They got tired of binge eating and then sticking their fingers down their throats to maintain a certain figure to please you, the customer. They got tired of bleaching their skin to appeal to your ideal. They got tired of spending money they did not have. They just got tired.

The society forgets that those who serve them are human beings too. They want to mould these people into something they are not. I am not naive so as not to understand that when you put yourself out there, you subject yourself to all kinds of scrutiny. That is OK. But no one is perfect in this world. And when I say be your real self, I am not at all suggesting that you should air your dirty laundry in public. My message is, be who you are, sell what you need to sell, build your brand without fear of being rejected. The people who matter will appreciate what you are offering regardless of your weight, the colour of your skin or how weird your name sounds.

The consequences of allowing ourselves to be driven by insignificant things are not worth the sacrifice in our lives. Our human dignity. Our peace and happiness. When our bodies and souls finally give up on us, the people we aim to please may mourn us for a while. But, soon, someone else will come along and steal their hearts, and you will quickly be forgotten. Therefore, my message is simple. Stop pretending and just be. There are people out there who will appreciate what you are offering anyway and decide to join you in your walk. When it is all said and done, wouldn’t it be a comforting thought to know that the legacy you leave behind is something borne of your genuine self? That which is purely you. UNIQUE!




Thursday, 27 October 2016

Finding My Own Voice



There are authors whose writings have informed my understanding and appreciation of writing as an art over the years. Bruce Courtenay, Maya Angelou, Tess Gerritsen, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Thomas Hardy, Chinua Achebe, Alice Walker, to name but a few. Though I quote them in my writings and cite their examples, I find it more satisfying and pleasurable when I produce original content of my own. A quote, a poem, an article or indeed a novel. After all, genuine authorship entails being able to create own content.

Writers will do well to read others and explore all kinds of genres. But in the end, they should be able to find their voice. So, what does finding one’s voice mean? How does one even begin to find their voice? Is it in the way a writer chooses their words, expressions, or is it in the way the reader responds to those words? 

Finding my voice is and has been a process. A process those in the know will tell you spans for years. It has been and still is a process of finding, establishing my character as a writer. Depicting my real authentic self in the way in which I present myself to the world through writing. It does not matter which words or phrases I use, instead, it is in the way in which my words and phrases give character to my writing.

The exact nature of my writing should provoke, in my reader, specific thoughts, and feelings. This way the reader gets to experience where the writer’s heart and soul lie, and what it is that drives them as a person.
I also believe that most, if not all writers, are products of their experiences. In my view, experiences are a writer’s most significant resource from which to draw knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Ultimately, it is how we embrace and interpret those experiences which determine the end-product. Our message to the world. Our writings. That end-product is what becomes palpable and tangible when a writer presents themselves to the world regardless of which writing path they choose to take.

My voice is my tone, the vibe, and the understanding readers get when they read me. It is that which people can quickly identify, that unique quality which separates you from other writers. When, in an instant, a reader recognises whose words they are reading the moment they pick up a book, a poem or indeed an article. It is only when this kind of familiarity begins to happen, that one can claim to have found their own writing voice.

Developing and establishing your own voice as a writer, I reckon, will give the reader the choice to choose you. Because, by the time they pick up your book, they would have already made up their mind about your kind of writing. They would've decided your writing appeals, inspires or speaks to their soul. I also think that the only reason a reader will keep coming back to a particular writer is that they are getting something that you as a writer alone can offer. That chemistry. That unique quality. Your voice.

Finding one’s voice is writing in a way that does not seek to deceive or betray what you represent as a person. As writers, we are encouraged to delve into uncharted territories and not to remain stuck in the comfort zone. We are invited to let ourselves go and to soar into the strange realms of imagination and create works of art. We are writers after all. One may wonder, though, if this process of creating, imagining and seeing yourself through strange eye lenses will betray your real character. I say it does not!

I believe that letting your imagination soar affords you the opportunity to develop specific facets of your character that you never knew existed. You cannot betray who you are by allowing your creativity take you to greater heights. If anything, the writer grows and develops as a human being. They extend an appreciation of the unfamiliar and discover a new potential within themselves. This process could be the unveiling of their ‘new self’. The newness that the world has been waiting for. That person, the kind of writer, you were meant to become all along!


Thursday, 13 October 2016

My Phenomenal African Woman Nomination (PAWAfrica)



PAW stands for the Phenomenal African Woman. It is an international Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)for the African Woman across all spheres and strata i.e. business, academia, government and other sectors] intended to ensure she takes her pride of place in nation building, enterprise and the furtherance of peace in the Continent.
To read my feature interview, click on here .

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

How To Fight For Love


How to Fight for Love

I haven’t written about love for a while, so I have decided to throw in a little blog for you today. My daughter calls these love blogs 'fluffy'. Well, who cares? Love makes the world go round, right? 

Why won’t he/she hear me? Why is she/he shutting me out? What is happening to us? If you have ever found yourself on the brink of losing the love of your life, then you will know where I am going with this. You know you love him/her and yet for whatever reason, you cannot seem to agree on anything. It appears as if some a vicious worm has penetrated your once solid relationship and all you have left are holes. Holes you cannot seem to fill no matter what you do or say. Have they fallen out of love? You wonder. So, what do you do when that happens? Do you just throw in the towel and hope that one day you will once again stumble upon another amazing love? Or do you stay and fight?

                                                 
Someone once said, ‘There is value in the valley.’ I am inclined to agree. The reason is that when we find ourselves between a hard place and a rock, true value comes from the ability to sit back and reflect. Truly reflect. No sugar-coating anything. Just being real with yourself as you try to understand and figure out where you went wrong. Once you’ve reflected, it is time to decide what you want. Do you want to fight or are you done? Most importantly, can you live with the result, good or bad? The strength, energy, and skills you will need for this will make you a better person in the end.

This woman I know never knew what fighting for love meant until she met the love of her life. Here she was, nearly losing the man who had opened her eyes and her heart, her best friend. When she came to this place, she began to reflect on the good times. How it had all started.
She had loved him from the moment she laid my eyes on him. When he took her hand and twirled her on the dance floor in a club one night, and for the first time, her heart pounded, and her spirit soared as it had never done before. As he had whispered in her ear, his voice serenading her, her heart had bubbled with joy. Her friends who had watched them from a distance had later told her what they had seen. ‘You are so good together. You look so happy.’ They hadn’t told her what the woman’s gut didn’t already know. She’d had already had an epiphany that she had met the one. If there’s such a thing.

Days, weeks and months followed, and they soon arrived in ‘blissland’. Then life happened. The inevitable, that phase that every relationship goes through came.  Her partner became distant and emotionally shut down. The more she chased, the faster he ran. And, the harder she knocked, the tighter the hinge on his door became. They swiftly drifted apart, and there was nothing she could do about it. Or was there?

Then, after she had spent many sleepless nights, she decided enough was enough. She was not going just to roll over and let her love die. So, she fought for her love.

If you’re going to fight, then fight for love. Another cliché I know. But, isn’t it true, though. If you cannot fight to preserve love, what else do you want to fight for? This love, I must emphasise, does not have to be the romantic kind. It can be a friendship. The love between siblings or child and parent. Sometimes these relationships drift apart, and people are left wondering, bewildered and confused. At times, because of pride or miscommunication, the love simply dies down, and people spend the rest of their lives with scars. Scars they cannot get past.

So, how do you fight for love? Well, I reckon, in this kind of war, two crucial ingredients need to be present.
1)       Both parties must recognise what they have and what they have to lose.
2)       Both parties must be willing to get in the ring because it's a futile attempt to fight for someone who doesn't want you in the first place.

So, I am just going to expand on these two crucial points and break them down the best way I know how.

Common Cause
In the battle of love, you cannot win, unless both of you are on the same team and fighting for the same result. Broach the subject with patience, love, and understanding. If you are going to communicate, then be honest and don’t hold back. Holding back means you are willing your partner to fail. Because, how are they going to know how to proceed if you are not real with them. Let them know where the holes in your relationship are and then give them the chance to fill them up. Be honest about your feelings and thoughts. That way, you are guiding and showing your partner how to love you. They will never know unless you’re honest with them. The truth will hurt but, if you are on the same team, it is easy to ride the tide.

Compassion
Compassion suggests that you can place yourself in the other’s shoes. Getting to a place of understanding the other person and how your words and actions impact on their ability to love and understand you. When both of you are fighting for the same resolution, you find it to stop each other when you know a line is about to be crossed. You don’t stop them by pointing a finger, but by saying something which shows you’re operating from a place of compassion and understanding.

Trust/Respect/Honest Communication
Trust is earned and built through honest communication. Respect also comes in. So, resist the urge to entertain that negative voice which tells you not to believe anything they say. If you are ever in any doubt, now is the time to ask all the relevant questions. Even if you don’t like what you hear, be willing to tackle it with an open mind. Even if you don’t agree with what they are saying, let them know, but respect their opinion at the same time. After all, we are all individual beings entitled to our opinions according to how we view the world.

Reassurance
It is crucial that you reassure your partner of your devotion, commitment and love. Because you have found yourself in this painful, and uncertain place, the tendency is to entertain doubts. Do they love me at all? You may wonder from time to time. Know and realise that your partner needs to hear those words of reassurance, whatever they are. If it means reminding them why you love them in the first place, then remind them. They need to hear that. It is hard right now, but if they know you love and appreciate them and have no intention of bolting on them, then you will be fine.

Change.
Change. Make amends. Do whatever you need to do to improve your relationship/friendship. As you work through your problems, lay your cards on the table. Specify what bothers you. If you both want to see an improvement, then the change should not be too difficult. This change will not happen overnight, so, exercise patience. Give the other person space and time to process everything. Reward positive change but not in a condescending and patronising manner. Show gratitude and be genuine in your thank yous. And when you change, be consistent. You will find that when you do this, nothing will seem like a chore because what you will get in return, will be ten times fold. 

Forgiveness
You will lose the fight if you don't learn to forgive. Forgive with all your heart and do not keep dragging up the past each time you disagree because you cannot avoid conflict. It's part of life. What matters is how you fight. As you forgive, receive forgiveness, you are developing as a person. You learn to be humble, to love others unconditionally and to be accommodating. Overall, you develop resilience because as you tackle the challenge that comes with dealing with another human being, you discover your strength and other qualities you never knew you had.

Love
And, now, for that all-important ingredient – love. I believe where there is love, real, genuine love, nothing is impossible to tackle. You are not afraid to lay bare your soul and to be vulnerable. It may take a little while, and the process may be emotionally taxing for both of you, but with the love that binds you, you will yield the results that you both want in the end. Talk, yell, cry, throw tantrums, break a cup or two even. If you do it for the right reasons, it will be alright. What you will end up with is a true acceptance of the other person - unconditional love.