5 Things I’ve Learned

by Cate Masters

Taking a page from Oprah’s O Magazine, instead of 5 Things I Know for Sure (always a dangerous statement, because someone’s sure to prove me wrong), here are 5 Things I’ve Learned in my half-century (plus) of life. Note: these are subject to change, as I am continually learning, and open to change.

1. Circumstances will not always sway in your favor. My husband’s grandfather had a saying: Sometimes you’re the bug, and sometimes you’re the windshield. There’s no getting around it. On those days you’re the bug, roll with it as best you can. Even if you find yourself splat flat against the glass, scrape yourself up and move on. Until you do, you'll never find out what good things await down the road.

2. There’s no substitute for hard work. As a writer, hope springs eternal for that lucky break. Do I sit around waiting for it? Hell no. I write every day. As bestselling author Barbara Kingsolver said: Chain that muse to your desk and get the job done! Another great quote, from David Armstrong, author of How Not to Write a Novel: The harder you work, the luckier you get. Makes a lot of sense.

3. Give yourself a break sometimes. Hard work’s a critical component to getting where you want to be in life, but at some point, you have to kick back. Step away from the demands of everyday life. Leave the computer, cell phone and other electronic annoyances that pass for necessities at home, and go to the beach, or a park, or just take a walk around the block. Say hi to a neighbor and connect in real, not virtual, time. Your sanity will thank you.

4. Make no excuses. If you’re wrong, apologize with grace and sincerity. Own up to mistakes the same way. You can’t undo a wrong, but you can promise to do better next time, or at least try your best.

5. Go with your gut. Love is not logical. It’s not even sensible sometimes, but it’s still better to follow your heart. In matters not of the heart, let your instinct and intuition guide you rather than trying to mould yourself to the latest trends, or second-guessing what you think others want you to be. Be true to yourself, and you won’t regret it.

Oh you wise, wonderful divas! Let’s hear your recipes for gratification and success. The world is your oyster, so let’s hear how you produce pearls of the grey bits life hands you.

Photos are mine. Smiley face in pepper courtesy of the universe.

Cate Masters writes fantasy/dark fantasy, historical, contemporary and speculative fiction, described by reviewers as “so compelling, I did not want to put it down,” “such romantic tales that really touch your soul,” “filled with action scenes which made it a riveting story,” and “the author weaves a great tale with a creative way of using words that makes the story refreshing to read.” Visit Cate online at www.catemasters.com, www.catemasters.blogspot.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.


  1. Hi Cate - very wise statements! I like the idea of chaining your muse to your desk. But your other comment - the harder you work the luckier you get - hmmm... Lately I've been feeling kind of battered and bruised when it comes to getting rejections. I do pick myself up and move onto the next project - and I have a list of ideas that I'm working on but sometimes I do hear that voice of self-doubt whispering in my ear. It's a tough road we're on - this writing thing - not tough like brick-laying or saving lives tough - but uncertain I suppose - because at the end of the day the work you put out - isn't necessarily going to be accepted. When I start to feel like that I do take a breather and step away for a bit - I also go through my idea list and read over what I've written - that does help. Anyway - that's my bit of whining for the day! ;) Cheers!

  2. I hear ya, Jo. It's tough sometimes. Years ago I picked up a copy of Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul, and even bestselling authors had tons of rejections. So we're in good company! It is good to take a break, but don't give up! It's coming. I can feel it for you!
    Sorry I've been quiet this past week. A summer cold kicked me down and I'm still struggling to get back up. I'm looking forward to reading the past week's posts!

  3. Enjoyed your list, Cate. Especially Make no Excuses. I'm a big believer in owning your own goof ups, because those are the best ways to learn, aren't they? As dopey as they make you feel... I am actually repelled by people who try to slither their way out of taking responsibilty for their own actions.

    My personal pearl of wisdom - dare to Not Care. It may sound exceedingly self-absorbed, but I highly recommend it. Stop doing things to impress anyone who is not you. The freedom from not caring about what others think is intoxicating.

  4. Excellent pearl, Julia. Letting others' opinions sway us can be a mistake, and drag us into inertia. It's something I'm working on. :)
    I've tried to instill accountability in my kids first and foremost. They're still learning!

  5. Great wisdom here, Cate!! I agree with every pearl. :-D

    And I'm with you, Julia, on the repugnance of those who avoid responsibility. A few years back I felt I had to pull away from a long-time friend, after I tried to confront her regarding some hurtful behavior and she responded with a two hour lecture (not exaggerating, wish I was) on why her life sucked and therefore she was not responsible. *rolls eyes*

    And YES, learning to let go the need for validation or approval, frees us to find out exactly what WE think, and what WE want. *laughs*

    Hard to come up with anything new to add to this wise list, except maybe this...

    Train yourself to see the positive, even when things look glum. As one saying goes, optimists may not always be right, but they sure have more fun along the road. We don't have to turn a blind eye to the negative. It's vital to be realistic, but to recognize that rain is as vital as sun to make our garden grow helps us weather the storms.

    And one more, look for the opportunity to say something nice or offer a smile when you can. It's amazing how easy it can be to notice that a stranger standing next to you in line has cool earrings or a nice sweater. Even a sincere, "I love that color!" can prompt a smile. It never hurts to brighten someone's day.

    Thanks for an awesome uplifting post!!



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